The government through the Minister of Justice, Benedict Sannoh, has threatened to suspend the operation of motorbikes in locations where motorcyclists could engage in collective violence leading to injury or destruction of property.
He made the statement last Thursday at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing in Monrovia, when he disclosed that the government has exerted all efforts to deal with the situation of bike riders in a “very responsible and realistic manner.”
He urged residents of communities where motorcyclists operate to ensure that the rule of law is fully observed, warning that government will not fail to suspend motorcycle operations if the rule of law is not observed.
According to Min. Sannoh, government will also be constrained to impound any motorbike venturing on the streets in areas where operations are suspended due to lawless activities.
Government has noted with “great concern” that the motorcyclists continue to engage in acts of lawlessness and collective disregard of the law, said Min. Sannoh.
His comment centered on the April 16 incident in which a motorcyclist was killed while being chased by a police officer.
“This is a collective responsibility placed on bike riders and their communities so that together they will ensure that the business of bike riding does not lead to deliberate violation of laws that will undermine the peace and security of the country,” said Sannoh.
The Minister acknowledged that the police alone cannot man the length and breadth of the country and therefore it requires the collective involvement of citizens and community leaders.
He added that the peace and security of Liberia cannot be left in the hands of the police alone, but every peace-loving citizen.
Min. Sannoh narrated that on May 6, in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, a motorbike rider rode under a parked truck and died, an event that led to a violent reaction by a group of motorcyclists, who set the truck ablaze. The event was repeated in Sinoe and Nimba counties a few days later where groups of the motorcyclists violently reacted by burning vehicles involved in accidents with the bike riders, said Min. Sannoh.
The government has given 45 days to operators and owners of motorcycles (June 1, to July 14) to comply with the new regulations announced by government or they will be stopped from plying the streets.
Minister Sannoh said all motorcyclists are to register their bikes, obtain insurance stickers and licenses before being allowed to ply major streets throughout the country before the end of the 45 days.
Sannoh, who is also the Attorney General, further announced that as part of the new regulations, all bike riders are to wear reflective jackets with their bike numbers stamped on them, coupled with a color- coding system in order to help identify the direct riding location of the bike.
He said the new regulations also apply to owners of motorbikes who are not using them for commercial purposes.
The Ministry of Transport will provide a compulsory and routine training for motorcyclists that will determine whether or not a motorcyclist should be given a license.
The new regulations come in the wake of the April 16 standoff between motorcyclists and the Liberia National Police following the death of motorcyclist Alfred Tarnue, which led to the burning of police depots in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.