The mere mention of this suggestion may surely make people scream. Where will the money come from? “Farfetched!” some will say.
And yet, even if one calls the Daily Observer “a dreamer,” is this not the answer to the motorcycle menace that has befallen our country?
How many times will these reckless and unruly people violently attack innocent people based on rumor and speculation? What has become of the investigation following the attack against the Ganta businessman?
The Ganta motorcyclists have “apologized,” but how long are we to tolerate their lawless, reckless and terrible behavior?
In her address to the nation last Thursday, President Sirleaf appealed to our people to be peace-loving and law abiding. And though she intentionally invited a cross-section of people, including the motorcyclists, the speech meant nothing to them. Alas, on the next day—Friday, they were at it again, behaving lawlessly, recklessly and even murderously, if the police had released the victim to them.
There are several possible responses to this behavior. First, the Liberian National Police should carefully screen and give police clearance to every motorcyclist BEFORE he is given a license to operate. Before the clearance is given, he should produce a well known and respectable person who is prepared to stand for him and vouch that he will be peace-loving and law-abiding.
Second, the police should ensure that the person being licensed is traceable—in other words, he should have at least three references, who will know where to find him.
The third response leads us to the larger, more long-term issue—radically changing the way we transport people in Liberia. We need a modern transport system. It is about time we developed an efficient bus system in Liberia.
Admittedly, this government has tried. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has been revived and thanks to the Indian government, there are a number of large buses plying various parts of Monrovia and upcountry. What this has shown us is that the system can work. But these buses are inadequate. The government should devise an efficient, marketable and self-sustaining system that will reach far into the various housing estates.
Of course, people will have to walk some of the way to their homes and work places, as is done all over the world. But this will encourage our people to learn to respect time—by awaking early to catch the bus and observing all the bus schedules from and to their various destinations.
The bus system should extend throughout the country—from Monrovia to Vahun, to Gbarnga and Nimba counties and on to the southeastern counties. There should also be inter-county bus services, reaching the various cities, towns and villages.
What we are talking about consists of the challenges of development. We Liberians must now begin to think ahead about how to improve our country.
Thankfully, this government has a plan to pave the highways to Gbarnga to Lofa and to Nimba and throughout the southeastern counties. We pray that Ellen will be able to do this before the end of her tenure in December, 2916 when, within two weeks or so, she will be handing over power to her successor. This, in addition to power from the Mount Coffee Hydro-electric Plant, will be part of her legacy.
It will not be too early for her to put together a team of experts, perhaps with some external assistance, to begin planning and organizing a railway system in Liberia that will transport people and goods throughout the country.
We Liberians should stop thinking of our country in terms of a village. The time has long past for that in the continent’s oldest independent republic. As we approach the 2017 elections, let us begin to formulate ideas to challenge, before they get there, those who say they want to lead us.
Let us begin to set agendas for them and for ourselves in every sector of national life—agriculture—self sufficiency in fruits, meat, rice, tree crop products, vegetables—cultural education and production (including dance, music, theatre and the arts), agro-industries, education, energy, furniture manufacture, health and medicine, housing, industrialization, modern fisheries, technology, tourism, and wood industries.
Let us start dreaming and creating serious challenges for ourselves and those who want to lead us.