ON TUESDAY, MARCH 6, A TAXI CAB operator asked one of our editors, who was riding with him from Paynesville City to Monrovia: “My brother oh so are we taxi drivers going to be allowed to carry two passengers in our taxi front seats, too?” Our editor asked him, what kind of question was that. He replied, “Ain’t the Pappy na tell the phem phem pekin dem to get back in the streets and start riding all over again? He thinks only they voted for him to be President? Who you think advising the pruh?” This was a question that our editor couldn’t answer as he neither speaks for the President (pruh) nor the Liberian Government.
THIS HAS BECOME THE SUBJECT OF OUR EDITORIAL for today. We, too, are asking the same question the cab driver asked. Late last Saturday, March 3, evening news of the ban being lifted on motorcycle operators from plying certain parts of Monrovia began trending on the social media.
EARLIER ON THE SAME DAY, THE POLICE INSPECTOR General along with some of his senior officers had met with the leadership of the motorcyclist union at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville City. The outcome from the meeting set into motion jubilations as those inexperienced cyclists began widely celebrating as if they had been un-caged.
THIS NEWSPAPER WAS INFORMED THAT the President had been informed by the hierarchies of the Liberia National Police (LNP), including the Inspector General, that they were lifting the ban on these motorcyclists by allowing them to again begin riding on two major routes in Paynesville City, outside Monrovia. The two routes are from Redlight towards Monrovia, using the Somalia Drive and from Redlight to Eternal Love Winning Africa’s (ELWA) junction.
FOR MANY MONTHS, THESE TWO ROUTES and others in Central Monrovia and its immediate suburbs including Sinkor, were supposed to be off limits for all commercial bike riders. Even though this was just a charade as these inexperienced bikers were frequently seen plying these routes.
FOR A FEW YEARS AGO, DURING FORMER President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s regime, when these bike riders were allowed to ply those routes unhindered, their recklessness led to many accidents. Most of these accidents became fatal as lives were lost. This happened daily. Most of them were maimed. Most of their innocent passengers and some bystanders had to go with unforgettable scars for the rest of their lives because of their (bikers’) stupidity.
IT ALSO BECAME VERY WIDELY KNOWN that these young men, who are mainly the operators of these commercial bikes, began snatching unsuspecting victims’ phones or handbags and other personal valuables like gold chains. But worst of all ware the many daily accidents.
THE INEXPERIENCED BIKERS ALSO TOOK UPON themselves to be enforcers of the law of the land. Whenever one of their colleagues was caught up in an accident involving a car, other bikers would burn that car if the owners didn’t take their vehicles from there very quickly to safety. And owners themselves were sometimes harmed. There have also been reports where they felt aggrieved with the police handling of some cases involving their colleagues that they raided and set some police depots on fire.
WHILE IT MUST BE NOTED THAT SOME OF THESE BIKERS, are honestly looking for their daily bread in this messy economy, it must be, however, said that most of them are “bad apples” among the very few good ones.
AND BECAUSE OF THESE VERY BAD ONES, we can’t applaud President George Manneh Weah and Police Inspector General Patrick Sudue for again unleashing these guys, who are referred to in some quarters as “suicide bombers” because of how carelessly they handle themselves when they are on their bikes, on Liberians.
MR. PRESIDENT MAYBE YOUR REASON TO CONCORD with your IG’s decision to allow these phem phem riders to hit the main roads again is informed by the overwhelming support you received from these young people when you were campaigning during the 2017 President and Representatives Elections. Campaigns are over for the next six years; you are now the President for all Liberians!
MR. PRESIDENT SUDUE HAS BEEN IN THE LNP for a considerate length of time. Did you ask him why in fact the ban had been placed on these bikers? We think the IG didn’t adequately inform the President on the ramifications of lifting the ban.
NOTWITHSTANDING, WE CANnotT SQUARELY LAY ALL THE BLAMES at the IG feet alone. The President knows, too. However, Mr. IG now that you have made one of the worst decisions, what measures have you instituted to deal with the by-products of these loyal partisans, whose actions will include accidents, robbery/theft and disrespect for traffic rules?