Both Liberia/Guinea security authorities engaged for cooperation
The Federation of Road Transport Union of Liberia (FRTUL) – Nimba Branch in collaboration with their Guinean counterparts, the N’zérékoré Branch, recently engaged the Guinea and Liberia border authorities to ensure the free movement of commercial vehicles.
Speaking to the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview in Ganta, the Nimba Branch president, Lawrence Queeglay, said their action resulted from numerous complaints from commercial drivers about being harassed by security officers on both sides of the border.
He said based on the complaints, the unions from both countries engaged the two government authorities in a meeting on the Liberian side of the border recently, where some high profile Guinean leaders from the Forest Region and Yomou (in Guinea) were in attendance.
“The Liberian drivers complained that there were too many checkpoints between the borderline and Djéké, a provincial Guinean town near the border; and at each of the checkpoints every Liberian passenger is compelled to pay no less than 50,000 Guinean franc, while every car is compelled to take a ticket/border crosser pass from the Guinean security before crossing with their cars,” he said.
“At the meeting,” he added, “the Guineans shared 80% of the blame, while the Liberian authorities took the balance 20%, for extortion.”
President Queeglay said the Guinean drivers complained of “too much extortion” at the police checkpoint at the Ganta border, and said the close proximity of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) checkpoint to the bridge that links both countries makes the drivers fearful of entering Liberia.
“The LIS gate is too close to the bridge, something that appears as if you’re entering a war zone,” he quoted one of the Guineans as saying at the meeting.
He, however, noted that the meeting was successful, as the Guineans agreed to ease some of the restrictions on commercial vehicles, especially the excessive fees.
Also, both unions reached an agreement that allows commercial vehicles from both sides to transport passengers between Ganta (Liberia) and N’zérékoré (Guinea) for a flat entry fee.
Queeglay said the movement of commercial vehicles was very smooth a few years ago, but that the continued harassment by border security officers on both sides elicited the meeting.
“This meeting was very fine, because it brought in some high profile Guinean authorities and their Liberian counterparts,” Queeglay said.