Randell Zuleka Dauda, M.Ed. (Concerned Liberian)
Have anyone else noticed? I have watched from the sidelines as our new leaders ply their way through the traffic with sirens for the last few months. Shortly after the new government took over, this new trend has become increasingly popular among the “VIPs”. I quote VIP only because there is no way of finding out how important they are since the cars are usual not marked and carry a dark tint.
With the exception of the President who usually comes with a vehicle marked Presidential Escort, there is no way to find out who the sirens belong to. This trending norm is becoming so comfortable that even police officers have joined the bandwagon. Many at times police officers are seen in police sedans, plying opposite lanes with sirens as a way of avoiding or beating traffic.
They drive on higher velocity and in lanes of the opposite direction without notice of any form of emergencies; they coerce other regular vehicles (the people) to allow them passage. Please take note of “the people” as same shall be discussed further in this paper. Ironically, the traffic further becomes huge as the use of third/opposite lane stifles the movement of vehicles attempting to move in the opposite direction.
Leadership is like a mirror. Robert Greenleaf defines the servant leaders as ones who are servants first, beginning with the natural feeling of wanting to serve first, opposing the concept of being leaders first. In this vein, servant leaders demonstrate care to ensure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.
Consequently the Liberian Constitution in Article 1 provides that “all power is inherent in the people. All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefit and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so require.” It further indicates that “the people” can cause their public servants to leave office and to fill vacancies by regular elections and appointments.
So do we realize the authority that we “the people” command? When did we become the last? Why we are not prioritized? We wake up early to navigate through the traffic, so as to get to work in time; whereas others choose to wake a little later, because they know that they have a way of passing us by in the traffic.
What’s that way? SIRENS! Leaders are supposed to be a reflection of those they lead. Our leaders are supposed to be law abiding citizens with good moral character that we can emulate. What does it say when everyday Liberians sit idly in traffic as our leaders create their own lane with sirens and pass us by?
Are we to emulate the disregard for traffic rules in hopes of being called “VIP”? In many cases, everyday citizens are told to leave the road and wait for our leaders to go by. Please note leaders in this regard refer to a range of people with SIRENS-from President to Directors of agencies I cannot even recognize.
Do we really need to leave the road because the Director of Procurement somewhere needs to be in a meeting? If they have meetings that are of importance to the work they were elected and/or appointed to do, there should be a respect for time. We all want to get to our destination in time, but our “leaders” are usually in much more hurry than us. They say “hurray hurray buss trousay oooo.” So, on a daily basis I wonder what’s the rush and where are they going?
I live on Sophie Road in Congo Town which is also where our dynamic Vice President, Madam Jewel Howard Taylor lives. I work in Sinkor. I am scheduled to begin work at 8am so I leave my house no later than 7:10am. On a regular day, it should take only about 15 mins to get to my office, but I know better. I live and work in Monrovia and that means early morning traffic and the usual hustle and bustle to get to town.
When my alarm goes off at 6am, I am usually not very happy, but this is the price I have to pay to get to work in time to earn my living. As I make my way to work along with other everyday citizens, the SIRENS of government officials- “our leaders” will push their way through traffic. Nissan Patrols, Land Cruisers, Range Rovers and other cars worth more than the road we drive on will pass me in a hurry.
With our narrow roads and nonexistent sidewalks, I’m sometimes forced to just sit there and listen to the sirens go off until there is a narrow way off the main street. I wonder sometimes if there’s a jump button in those fancy cars because I am sure I do not have one. Although they must have more important things to do than those of us that sit in the traffic awaiting directions from the police, the roads simply do not allow the “hurray hurray” they put us in.
Heading home on two occasions, I was stopped for 25 mins because the Vice President was also heading home. The escort cars will come dashing through to give warnings of her arrival and instruct other drivers like myself to remain parked until she makes her way by you. I live here way before it was “the Vice President’s house road.” I am a contributing member of this society with a wondering mind.
I will like to know what purpose it serves to be held at a standstill until my leader goes by. As a democratic nation and in keeping with the earlier passage of the Constitution referenced in this paper, Liberians are bosses of our leaders. We elected them and they work for us. My one vote could make all the difference in the event or a tide during elections.
The Constitution that our dear President urges citizens to read tells me that to win a presidency, One will need 50% plus ONE. I could be that one. That makes me pretty important if you ask. Every Liberian is that ONE and should be treated as such. How can the same people we elected push us to the side and break traffic rules all in the name of heading to work for us?
I find that absurd. When everyday Liberians are told to move to the side of the roads as our leaders make their way, it is a broad disrespect for our faith in their leadership. Are we not the same ones that they begged and promised to work for a few months back when they ran campaigns?
Is this not the “pro-poor government”? Let’s recognize that the cars that leave us by the roads are owned and fueled by us. The police that slow us down and make way for them to cruise by the traffic are there to protect our lives and properties. What a slap in the face to us when you don’t have time to follow the traffic rules because you’re now an elected and/or appointed official.
It is also observed that other impatient everyday Liberians have already followed that path. This is because everybody wants to be bosses of the people. Who is who? Nobody knows. But my admiration goes to those conscious everyday Liberians who stay put, and move as they should, respecting the traffic laws of our country.
I commend your tolerance and respect for the rule of law. Until then, I’ll be sitting in my car waiting for the “VIPS” to go by. This glorious land of liberty shall long be ours!