The Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) recently received logistical materials, including six patrol boats, two Toyota Land Cruisers, 32 desktop computers, 32 Laser Jet printers and 100 camp beds, valued at US$371,336.22.
These materials are coming at the time when the two vital security institutions have consistently and persistently called for logistics to enable them to operate efficiently and effectively in the midst of security responsibilities they have to perform in the absence of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
These essential office and patrol assets, we believe, will greatly enhance the work of these institutions, and it is only appropriate to laud Japan for rescuing the Government of Liberia by empowering the two institutions.
It may be recalled that on March 11, 2016 Japan through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) donated 160 motorbikes to the LNP and the LIS (referred to then as the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization – BIN. Among the items were also 2,000 sets of rain gear and 200 infrared thermometers.
Realizing the important role the two security institutions play in the security transition process, the record shows that other countries have provided them with logistical support. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Sweden gave 122 motorbikes to the LNP and the then Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) in 2011. Just last year, the People’s Republic of China turned over to LNP, BIN and other security agencies all of its logistics used during peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Ireland, France and the United States are also on record for providing logistical support to the LNP and LIS.
This immense logistical support, however, has in one way or the other been misused and in most instances damaged by officers of the very institutions due to lackadaisical handling and negative attitude towards things belonging to the government. From the time recruitment began for the Liberia National Police and the Liberia Immigration Service (formerly BIN), international partners, knowing the incapacity of the Liberian government to provide for itself, have been providing logistical support to the security sector.
But as can be clearly seen in the backyard of Liberia National Police Headquarters and at various police depots across the country, hundreds of vehicles are damaged and parked. Between 2013 and 2014 the General Services Agency (GSA) provided new pickups to the LNP and the Immigration, but after two weeks of use, reckless driving damaged the one that belonged to the Public Affairs Department of the LNP. In 2016 at the Catholic Junction near Congo Town, a new open-back jeep used by LNP County Commander of Margibi was involved in an accident due to reckless driving and the vehicle was badly damaged. Less than one year following Chinese donation to the LIS, one of the trucks was gutted by fire in Gbangay Town in Sinkor and no report has established the cause. It is also unfortunate to note that with all the support from foreign partners to these institutions to help the country, the government itself does not even think about purchasing spare parts to repair some of these damaged vehicles.
As another consignment of logistical equipment and materials has been donated, we ardently hope that LNP and LIS will exhibit maturity and responsible behavior in handling the Japanese donated patrol boat, land cruisers and other assets. Patrol boats are worthy materials for the two institutions to handle as they cannot handle vehicles that any individual can handle. The LNP and LIS must bear in mind that time will come for Liberia to experience a dry spell from donors because of internal and other conditions in donor countries.
We note U.S. President Donald Trump’s policy to ‘put America first’ and he is working at it by withdrawing his country from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. President Trump is also insisting that America will not continue to pay huge sums of money to NATO, but all countries under NATO must pay their fair share. Should we then think that he will not be able to change US policy towards aid to Africa by reducing the USAID budget? Yes, he can! And in the same manner other leaders can do the same, as issues like terrorism are creating problems for powerful countries like Britain, France and others, for which more money will be needed for Europe’s own war against terrorism.
Let the LNP and LIS learn to properly manage logistics, believing that it may not always come free, and that one fine day, donors will leave us to fend for ourselves. And when that time comes, we had better be prepared.