Quite recently the Liberia National Police released what it called ‘restrictions on motorcyclists to vacate the streets after 10 pm’ as a means of providing security to residents of the capital, Monrovia and its environs.
Ideally, motorcycle transportation is proven to have created one of the major economic impacts of the Liberian civil war on different communities of the country. Most people find it convenient in conveying them to their various destinations. Be it to work, school, market places or social sojourn, the motorcycles have become a remedy to the glaring shortage of motor vehicles in the city, especially for those who live in communities where traffic congestion has turned out to be a norm.
Realistically, the reasons counted by police authorities for the restrictions on motorcyclists are not only faulty but also equally expose the inability of LNP to provide adequate security to the people of Monrovia and its surrounding areas.
It is regrettable for a police force, which has benefitted from both taxpayers’ money and donors’ support to have them trained not to possess the ability to curtail crime, which has become very widespread in the city of Monrovia.
LNP authorities have accused motorcyclists as being facilitators of armed robbery and other crimes that occur in the city. One police official is reported as indicating that people using motorbikes carry out 75% of crimes. So, by inference, motorcyclists are criminals who must be kept off the streets after 10 pm so that the people of Monrovia would have a safe environment.
For one to imagine that ordering the motorcyclists off the streets after 10 pm is the solution to criminal activities in Monrovia is a narrow-minded thinking on the part of the LNP authorities. I think the LNP should rethink their decision, because their so-called restrictions is witnessing the re-emergence of what used to be referred to as “ISAKABA” (cutlasses tooting criminals) who have once again started terrorizing our communities.
Since the restrictions came into effect almost a week ago, Monrovia after 10 pm is as if a state of emergency or curfew has been put in place. Our people have been left in a vulnerable situation as a result of this - because those who lived far from the main road previously relied on motorcyclists to ferry them to their homes and neighborhoods. But with such restrictions, they are constrained to walk home, something which is dangerous since criminals do hide themselves in corners and the dark places to pounce on unsuspecting passersby and steal from them.
Let it be established here that, the ‘restrictions’ on motorcyclists does not in any way ensure the solution to fighting crimes. The authorities must deploy police officers in every community and patrol the streets at night. With this, they will begin with the arrest of those who continue to distress our city residents.
Liberians and other residents of the country are living in vulnerable conditions because the police, who have the statutory mandate to protect lives and properties of citizens, only place emphasis on motorcyclists for reasons best known to them.
Criminal activities are carried out in diverse ways, through the use of motorbikes of course, with vehicles and even by walking- so it leaves one to wonder why police authorities would choose to restrict only motorcyclists and leave out the vehicles. Remember that the infamous “passenger 57” which is being used to steal from people is not a motorbike; rather, it is a motor vehicle. Do the police also have plans to restrict vehicles for the same 10 pm or 12 mid-night? Furthermore, police authorities recently admitted that some police officers were responsible for the use of police uniforms in the commission of armed robbery. So, in this case, what are the police authorities going to do, remove all police officers from the streets after 10 pm? The issues are so hypothetical, and so what the police can do is to halt their unjustified restrictions on motorcyclists.
The police authorities must be serious and not play with the lives of people who are trying to put their lives back together. The action against motorcyclists is not a defensible one. So the LNP must act swiftly in rescinding the order and allow the motorcyclists to come back to the streets for the convenience of our people.
The LNP needs to define a holistic approach in fighting criminal activities for the safety of everybody instead of misplaced restrictions, which has no guarantee of curtailing crimes. One of the best approaches adopted by the leadership of the motorbike union and could help in alleviating the use of motorbikes for criminal activities is for motorcyclists to chase and arrest anyone who uses a motorbike to rob citizens. I witnessed a case in point recently on Clay Street, central Monrovia where two young men riding on a motorbike snatched a lady’s gold chain. Over 50 motorcyclists chased the criminals on that day. For me, that is the beginning of putting an end to the use of motorbikes for criminals’ venture.
The police need to work along with the motorcyclists union in enhancing this approach rather than to ask them (motorcyclists) to vacate the streets by 10 pm – a decision that is proving detrimental to ordinary citizens.