A newly emerged drivers union, the National Drivers Union of Liberia (NADUL), is contemplating a regulatory system to restrict and carefully monitor the movements of commercial vehicles for accountability purposes.
The organization’s president, Charles S. Garyu, in an interview with the Daily Observer earlier this week noted that driving is randomly done in the country without regulations and accountability, and as such drivers need to come together under this umbrella to develop a system that will protect them and passengers they carry in their vehicles.
He expressed disappointment that there are transport unions in Liberia that collect fees from drivers for their so-called services, but the very drivers from who the money is collected remain vulnerable.
Moreover, the NADUL president said since these unions came in existence with the Federation of Road Transport Union of Liberia (FRTUL) being the oldest, vehicles continue to be parked in a disorganized way in front of stores and street places without a terminal being built.
Mr. Garyu also attributed the vulnerability of drivers to the fact that they have not had an organized body to uphold them, noting that such is responsible for extortion of money from them by transport union operators.
He further indicated that with the collaboration of the Ministry of Transport and the Liberian National Police (LNP), NADUL will begin giving stickers to commercials driver to direct them where to run daily.
According to him, a sticker will bear the location of where the driver would head at a time in the day. This will help even the passenger to be notified of where the vehicle is going.
Furthermore, the NADUL president told the Daily Observer that with the cooperation of commercial drivers, there will be control of passengers and drivers will not be rushing for passengers since a driver knows where he/she will be plying.
With the sticker system, Garyu explained, criminals at Red-Light and other places claiming to be car loaders will have no grounds to extort money from passengers and drivers, and at the same time steal from them under the guise of loading.
In this effort, the Ministry of Transport and LNP have reached a consensus with the organization to put the sticker regulation in place to help control the traffic.
“As we introduce this system, vehicle that will have a sticker for Red-Light and heads to another direction not in line with instruction given the driver will be stopped, seized and turned over to the LNP for investigation, and the required penalty will levied against that driver,” Garyu said.
According to the NADUL president, transport unions have a social responsibility to the drivers to train them (drivers), but over the time the unions have failed to meet their obligations.
As the new drivers union comes into force, he said, it is going to work in line with the LNP to train commerce drivers and advocate on their behalf as most decisions in the country affect them.
The transport sector of Liberia is one disorganized sector where restriction is rarely seen, he observed.
Vehicles randomly park and receive passengers sometimes in accordance with the passenger’s discretion or the driver’s.
However, different men are regularly seen in the streets collecting parking fees from drivers under the umbrella of the Federation of Road Transport Union.
Mr. Garyu further disclosed plans to trained vehicle owners and drivers. The training is intended to buttress the effort of government, thereby improving the transportation sector of the country, particularly drivers and vehicle owners.
Quoting the vehicle and traffic law of Liberia, Mr. Garyu said before any drivers obtained a license from government, that person should be tested and evaluated by the Ministry of Transport before being issued a driver’s license.
He noted that the portion of that traffic law is no longer effective and as such, the training is designed to help vehicle owners to protect their vehicles.
“We will train them on Standard control and prevention of accident, mechanical default and maintenance of vehicle.”
“We conducted our research on Liberia and discovered that what we found out was frightening. We have about five groups of transport unions in Liberia that have been existing for many years and we have not been able to detect any positive impact in the lives of drivers,” he declared.