According to opinions gathered by the Daily Observer, the failure of the justice system to be seen as capable of delivering justice (due process) may be responsible for the increase in mob violence, after a 97-seater bus was set on fire on Battery Factory Road in Monrovia on Monday, July 3rd.
The yellow American school bus, popularly known as ‘Killer Bean,’ with license plate number TB83010, struck and killed Victor Morris, whose motorbike ran into the bus’ path that fateful day.
Mr. Amos Tomah, who owns a sign-writing shop on Battery Factory Road, said he was sitting at his shop at about 4:00 pm when he saw the yellow bus speeding towards him and stopping just a few feet away.
“I saw the driver and a female police officer,” he said. “The officer was trying to calm him down because the driver was trembling. When both got down from the bus, the driver attempted to run through Battery Factory, but an alarm was raised; and after some minutes, he was caught and returned to the officer.”
Tomah said during the melee, the bus’ engine, which was idling, shut down. “Then another young man came around and jumped into the driver’s seat. He tried to start the engine but it would not start,” he said.
“For nearly 30 minutes they tried to restart the bus without success and then I saw a large group of young men, all of them motorcycle riders, who came looking for the driver. By now the driver had left the scene and the situation was growing tense,” he said, adding that he advised his brother to close the shop and leave the scene. Ten minutes later, he said, the angry men, believed to be commercial motorcycle riders, set the bus on fire.
The scenario harkened back to 2015 when angry commercial motorcyclists were accused of setting two such buses on fire for killing one of their own on Somalia Drive.
Meanwhile, the Liberia National Police reacted to Monday’s incident by sending a contingent of officers from its Emergency Response Unit (ERU) to secure the area to ensure that there was no further violence.
Owing to the incident, since Monday the LNP has not allowed commercial motorcyclists to operate from Battery Factory, Topoe’s Village, New Georgia, Gardnersville up to Chicken Soup Factory, and there are reports that several arrests have been made. Also, in response to the destruction of the bus, almost all ‘Killer Bean’ buses have been grounded either out of caution or in protest, since Monday night.
Meanwhile, this reporter put the question “Why has the government been unable to prevent mob violence?” to several residents of Battery Factory.
“Lack of justice,” said a young man who identified himself as Joe. “For example, the young man who was killed in the accident, what would his parents receive for his death? There is no insurance benefit for the family so some people take the law into their own hands because of injustice.”
Another resident, Mrs. Joyce Williams, said while the situation is regrettable, “the fact is when you take such a case to the police and then to court, the law will run you around until you regret sending your case to court. If people were receiving what they expect in the court of law, people would not engage in such violence, I believe so.” Another resident, Samson, said “I condemn the commercial motorcyclists for their action but we need to get real. I heard recently that the government asked every car, including buses, to get third party insurance. If the third party insurance can provide benefits to those who are killed in accidents, then we will be going somewhere, otherwise we will be going around in circles.”
Others said the government should encourage community associations to create awareness in their areas about the dangers of mob violence, while at the same time the government should also ensure that victims receive just compensation, either through out-of-court negotiations or through the court of law.