By Eddie Miaway Farngalo ([email protected])
The restriction of motorcyclists from plying major streets in Monrovia under Madam Ellen Sirleaf regime was not a marginalization for this group but rather a measure to minimize preventable deaths, prevent facilitated arm robberies, disabilities while reducing the unnecessary traffic congestion and pedestrians’ injuries as well. Now that it had been erased under President Weah’s administration, there is a likelihood that the opposite will happen.
It is of no doubt that motorcyclists are of major help to the transport system of Liberia. They fail in the gaps when vehicles are not available to transport patients and citizens to and from hospitals and clinics as well as their areas of living and work places. The importance of this group is felt within rural communities where roads are not available and even when available, they are not passible when using cars. They are the ambulances for villages and towns affected by roads connectivity.
Amidst those advantages, come major disadvantages that will undermined the sustainability of the fragile peace that have been left solely in the hands of our security apparatus. Inarguably, the country’s security force is not equipped enough to protect citizens who live in communities far from main roads that are inaccessible by security and other vehicles but are very accessible to motorcycles during arm robbery and other crimes.
Before the restriction took effect under Madam Sirleaf’s administration, many community dwellers were complaining about how motorcyclists were used as transporters for criminals in hard to reach communities in and around Monrovia. Also, there were many reported deaths of motorcyclists due to some interior motive of some passengers they carried in localities that are relatively quiet. Some of them lost their precious lives because they refused to peacefully turn over their bikes keys to the passengers turned robbers just to have it sold in counties different from its (bike) origin.
But after putting such restriction in place, road traffic accidents (RTA) reduce at face value, perceptions that when bike riders are involved in accidents they are left alone to die or their wounds are handled without painkillers in hospitals drastically reduced among motorcyclists. Crimes committed among this cohort or through their instrumentalities also reduced unthinkingly.
Now that the evidence based restriction has been relaxed by the current government, the beneficiaries have been celebrating around the country. Especially in Monrovia that is considered the hub. Beneath their jubilations lies the bigger pictures that only thoughtful or visionary will look at as a “death trap”, a move to reward arm robbers for “supporting this administration” with their votes since they have easy access to the fastest moving object in the country with regards to the rough terrains or bad roads when it comes to accomplishments of their “lives threatening” missions.
The saddest things always are that the trickledown effects of government policies like this surpass the security benefits for vulnerable citizens. Meaning citizens who have no access to hire a personal security little own materials (cash and kind) are prone to be slashed away anytime soon with this open road access.
With most of the traffic lights in the capital city malfunctioning, this move by this government is not timely in the broader context. Worst, when even vehicles drivers do not understand the traffic signs as well as pedestrians have no safe walkway apart from crossing the main street that they shared with motor road users. Especially when motorcyclists take themselves as group of people who are not restricted to traffic lights (most of them cross when the lights is not green).
Even though many people think that “it is still soon” to erect checkpoints to missteps of this administration, I will say this is the best time to do so. If not, the president’s cycle of friends or employees who are wrongfully using the phrase “this is our time” will misdirect him, dump the country, and might undo some useful restrictions, regulations or developmental agenda. Actions that will take this country back to its immediate post war status or beyond. Also, let him do an inter-sectorial or community based analysis of the possible outcomes relating to the removal of restrictions or undoing other regulations that were placed prior to this administrations. It is also good for this administration to note that human needs are numerous and cannot be satisfied by even the richest countries in the World. Therefore Mr. President, if your decisions are to be based on individuals or groups’ satisfaction rather than public good, the latter effects will be counted against the regime as a whole then individuals.