The police in many countries, Liberia included, have a bad name. They are usually given to corruption, extorting money from motorists, especially the most vulnerable—commercial and ordinary drivers, many of whom are often found without operating licenses. But that does not matter if they are willing to offer the officer “something.” This is dangerous because unlicensed drivers may lack the experience in driving techniques, and the discipline required of licensed ones. This could lead to accidents and criminal activity.
Another problem is the cantankerous behavior of many police officers, who believe that their first duty is to shout at and insult motorists over the slightest suspicion or incidence of offense. This negates the philosophy that the police wish to portray as the people’s “best friend.”
However, that noble but often elusive (obscure, how to pin down) characteristic was brilliantly demonstrated this week by no less a police officer than the Police Inspector General himself, Colonel Clarence Massaquoi, when he led a contingent of his men to one of Monrovia’s worst slum areas, West Point, to clean up the beaches there.
This was in direct response, we thank God, to the Daily Observer’s back page story this Monday, reechoing the desperate cry of West Point Commissioner Miata Flowers, for emergency assistance to maintain the regular cleaning of Monrovia’s South Beach, West Point, Clara Town, Point Four, Popoe and New Kru Town beaches. The purpose of her plea was to avert the outbreak of cholera, diarrhea, malaria, typhoid and other deadly diseases that come from defecation and dirt dumping on these beaches.
Commissioner Flowers’ cry immediately followed the sudden cancellation by the LMA (Liberia Maritime Authority’s) great project to undertake the regular cleaning of all these beaches. The LMA said it had run out of money and was suspending the engagement of several crews, causing panic among the workers and the benefitting communities.
Monday’s story immediately claimed the attention of Police Inspector General Massaquoi who, in swift response, moved in on Tuesday morning with a crew of police officers to clean up the West Point beaches.
We highly commend Colonel Massaquoi for this timely initiative and pray that he will continue with the other beaches. We are aware that the Police’s resources are not unlimited. That is why in Tuesday’s editorial on the Maritime withdrawal, we called on the Liberian government to find some emergency funds to continue this vital beach cleaning project in Monrovia to save our children in these desperately deprived slum communities from the deadly diseases that come with indiscriminate defecation and filth.
Today we call on the Armed Forces of Liberia and its compassionate civilian heads, Commander-in-Chief President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Defense Minister Brownie Samukai to order the soldiers to lend a helping hand.
In this connection, we urge Minister Samukai to develop a strategy to further engage the Armed Forces in other civil projects, such as agriculture and road building to help move things in a positive direction in these two vital sectors.
We repeat our call on the GOL to find emergency funds to restore the LMA Beaches and Waterways Project.
That brings to mind another serious question: Why is Maritime broke? What’s going on with the substantial revenues from our Maritime program? But that is a subject of another investigation.