Over Motorcyclists Street Reappearance, Senate Invites Police IG

2
2006
Patrick Sudue is Liberia's new Inspector General of LNP

The Senate at its 15th day sitting yesterday voted unanimously to invite the Inspector General (IG) of the Liberia National Police (LNP) over the reappearance of motorcyclists on the streets in Monrovia and other parts of the city, including the commercial district of Paynesville, which were once the “No Go Zones” for commercial cyclists.

According to President Pro-tempore of the Senate, Albert Chie, the secretary of the Senate was requested to invite Police Inspector, Patrick Toe Sudue, to appear before the Senate plenary on Thursday, March 8, at 1:00 p.m. to give reason for reversing a decision taken following exhaustive consultations.

The Senators’ decision, followed a lengthy debate on two separate communications from Senators Geraldine Doe-Sherif of Monterrado County and Stephen Zargo, Lofa County, in which they called the attention of their colleagues to the resurfacing of commercial motorcycles onto the principal streets of Monrovia, “while in times past, those streets were labelled by Police a No Go Zones, due to manifest necessities.”

In their debate, Sen. Zargo who chaired the Senate’s Defense Committee, recalled that the decision to restrict the motorcyclists to specific routes was welcomed by every sector of the citizenry, including the riders themselves, whom he said have since been operating in those zones.

“The decision by the past administration of the LNP to ban motorcyclists from plying the principal streets of Monrovia was taken after thorough consultation with and among national security institutions, our international partners on the other, and these decisions were based on two prevailing factors at the time the ban was imposed.

“The rate at which road accidents involving motorcycles and motorcyclists were occurring, and the increased usage of motorcyclists and motorcycles in the commission of crimes, especially armed robbery,” Sen. Zargo, who now represents the Senate at the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja, Nigeria, noted.

Zargo further noted that the the two factors were sufficient reliance to impose the then restrictions, and that just within a short period of time into the implementation of the restrictive measure, there was an appreciable decrease in the number of road traffic accidents involving motorcyclists, while crimes such as robbery, which were usually perpetrated with the aid of motorcycles decreased considerably as well.

The Lofa County lawmaker disclosed that further probe into the resurfacing of motorcyclists as mentioned, “established that same was borne out of pronouncement made by the Executive Branch of Government, lifting said ban and giving motorcyclists the rights to ply in places that were previously considered the No Go Zones.”

The Senator recalled a March 5, statement from the spokesman of the LNP, which he said contained a different interpretation of the general pronouncement made by the Executive, with one version quoting the IG as having instructed motorcyclists to converge at the SKD Sport Complex to enable him explain the Pro-poor agenda on the one hand, and the other to lift part of the restrictions imposed by his predecessor.

Referring to what the Senator said is a manifest ambiguity, subjecting the ban on motorcyclists to multiple interpretations,”I request the plenary…to invite the Police Inspector General here, so as to make requisite clarity in these issues… due to its security implications.”

In her communication to plenary, Senator Doe-Sherif noted: “To my uttermost amazement, on Saturday, March 3, at 7:00 p.m., I saw a huge convoys of motorcyclists from the 12th Street on Tubman Boulevard as far as to ELWA Junction displaying their usual gymnastics, chanting, ‘freedom at last, freedom at last’. During these ‘freedom at last, freedom at last’ convoys with their acrobatic display, two of the cyclists collided before an MCC Skip Truck, which could be dangerous if the driver was not smart to hold a quick brake,” the chair on Senate Committee on Executive said.

Meanwhile, while the Senate was debating on the next course of action, reference to the reemergence of motorcycles, report was received on the floor about serious collision accident involving motorcyclists on the Gardnersville road.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Phem phem cyclists are like rickshaws operators who’ve been permanent features of some Asian cities since the 1960’s; the 64,000 dollars question is, do they undergo training conducted by LNP, and licensed the same way motorists and their vehicles are? If not, they should and ought to be held liable for violation of all traffic laws. Elsewhere, some motorists commit hit and run fatalities, and cab drivers rob passengers, but the police vigilantly perform their jobs by arresting and jailing perpetrators.

    The other question then becomes, whether evidence exists that phem phem operators pose threat per se to national security, or was the ban out of fear then that a dragnet-law enforcement-centered LNP could clash with them, hence precipitating a breakdown in law and order at a time of political discontent? Framed that way, one can understand why nearly everybody concurred with the ban, and put allaying unfounded fears and convenience before the plight of passengers dependent on that mode of transportation, and the cyclists who lost income.

    In an overcrowded city with mass unemployment and lacking many roads, caution should be taken in restricting a commercial activity which ought to be effectively regulated and taxed. Pervasive poverty unquestionably poses a bigger threat to public safety and national security than allowing phem phem cyclists to safely ply the roads in order to earn their livelihoods. Perhaps, punctilious legislators should look at the matter from the perspective of a pro-poor agenda; as noted in first paragraph, it needs a policing solution.

  2. I think it was a mistake for President Weah to reverse a policy without carefully studying its impact to safety and security. If accidents, and robbery decreased substantially when this ban was implemented, then it was a good policy. For him to now reverse it without considering the pros and cons is a bad way to make public policy and he will regret it when things go haywire again. He needs to be more prudent or he will regret his decisions and worse yet if he had to reverse himself.

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