Emergence of Checkpoints, Heavy Police Presence Scare Drivers

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Although a state of emergency has not been declared, heavy police presence along the Monrovia-Ganta Highway especially during the night hours is scaring drivers and the Federation of Road Transport Union of Liberia (FRTUL) as they are persistently and constantly harassed.

A trip made by our reporter last week, along the highway, showed that dissolved checkpoints have resurfaced with scores of police officers posted and stopping every commercial vehicle plying the highway.

Beginning from Mount Barclay, there is a highway patrol checkpoint at 15th Gate; and right after it is the police highway patrol checkpoint.

From there another gate is installed during the night hours in Weala before reaching the main Salala Gate. After Salala is the Gbarnga main Iron Gate and then the police checkpoint right by the Gbarnga Police Station.

The last checkpoint is the Ganta Main Gate, also filled with Police, Immigration and Fire Service officers.

Interestingly, all commercial vehicles coming from both ends are parked and asked for L$100 or L$50 the least before taking off.

“You see we are afraid especially during the night hour because the police officers can be plenty along the road.  Every checkpoint installed on this road we pay not less than LD$50, and this couple with gasoline price is what gets us to take two persons in the front and add up the fare,” a driver whose car took our reporter to Ganta complained.

“As for us we have nothing to do again.  Whether I take one person in the front or two, police and immigration will ask me to pay the LD$50 and LD$100.  So we just have to pay the money and disobey the traffic rule,” another driver stated on June 2, 2014 after crossing Salala Gate.

It can be recalled that in 2012 April, drivers across the country went on strike for constant harassment by police and immigration officers along the highway, and this impeded free movement of goods and people for hours.

Following the strike all other checkpoints besides Salala Gate, Gbarnga Iron Gate, and Ganta Gate were dissolved, but all those checkpoints that were dismantled have resurfaced and making it difficult for drivers to move vehicles along the highway.

Earlier, Police spokesperson Sam Collins had clarified that the central authority was not informed about any checkpoints besides the three major checkpoints that left in place after the dissolution of the rest.

Meanwhile, an executive of the Federation of Road Transport Union of Liberia (FRTUL), William Flomo has also alarmed that the erection of sub-checkpoints along the highway is causing problem for drivers.

According to Mr. Flomo, these checkpoints are not recognized by senior authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP) but are operated by police officers and are using them as means of harassing drivers thus causing them (drivers) to breach traffic rules.

He called on the authority of the Liberian National Police and the Justice Ministry to put a system in place to reduce the checkpoints so as to avoid problem that may affect the greater population.

He also attributed the rise in fare to the depreciation of the Liberian Dollar to the US Dollar, and called on government to find a solution to give relevance to the Liberian Dollar.

On the compulsory Third Party Insurance scheme, Flomo urged commercial drivers to embrace the scheme nationwide in spite of its untimely introduction.

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