When Lawmakers Openly Break Law: Traffic Busters Go Free – End Miscarriage of Justice

RUSH-HOUR TRAFFIC is a mess in Monrovia. The peak hours between 6am to 10am has become a nightmare for motorists, particularly during inspection season when Ministry of Transport in collaboration with the Liberian National Police stop vehicles in a bid to book those whose vehicles are not current with registration plates and stickers.

REGRETABLY, THERE IS always exceptions to the rule.  While many motorists endure the pains of the snail pace of traffic en-route to work or taking their kids to school, some so-called big shots – bearing government license plates, particularly the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Judiciary and other government plates, have developed the tendency of driving in opposing lanes while leaving the rest of the ordinary citizens behind.

EVEN MORE TROUBLING, most of those breaking the traffic rules do so with no regards for the laws even though they should be the ones implementing and ensuring that the laws of the land are enforced.

MEMBERS OF THE legislature, the judiciary and other government ministries and agencies have become fond of using one set of license plates on more than one vehicles, a clear violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Laws of Liberia.

THE LAWS ARE CLEAR regarding the Registration of Plates: “The minister upon registering a vehicle shall issue to the owner one registration plate for a motorcycle, bicycle, or trailer, and two registration plates for every other registered vehicle. Every registration plate shall have displayed upon it the registration number assigned to the vehicle for which it is issued, also the name “Liberia” and the year for which it is issued, or if the license plate is to be used for more than a year, the minister may adopt such other device as he may deem practical for display upon the license plate or upon the vehicle in order to show the year of the registration.”

REGARDING THE Display of license plates, the law states: “Registration plates issued for a vehicle other than a motorcycle, bicycle or trailer shall be attached thereto, one in front and the other in the rear. The Registration plate issued for a motorcycle, bicycle or trailer shall be attached to the rear thereof. Every registration plate shall at all times be securely fastened in a horizontal position to the vehicle for which it is issued to prevent the plate from swinging and at a height of not less than 12 inches from the ground, measuring from the bottom of such plate, in a place and position to be clearly visible and shall be maintained free from foreign materials and in a condition to be clearly legible.”

ACCORDING TO THE LAWS a person who violates the provisions of this section is subject to a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.

LIBERIA IS WITHOUT A DOUBT, a nation built by laws. But throughout history, it has been proven – over and over again, that laws are rarely implemented as everyone go about doing his or her own thing to the detriment of a country whose laws are implemented to target the less powerful people languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder.

THIS WEEK, WHILE explaining his way out of allegations that he purchased a vehicle reported stolen in America, Representative Acarous Moses  Gray(District 8, Montserrado County), described his latest linked to a stolen vehicle as an unfounded, baseless and a calculated attempt to demolish his political standing and integrity.

THE LAWMAKER EXPLAINED that he had not paid a dime for the vehicle but admitted that his official plate was on the vehicle because he had expressed interest in purchasing the vehicle and had asked the car dealer to test drive the vehicle using his official plates.

THIS IS A CLEAR VIOLATION OF THE LAW. And one not just representative Gray is guilty of but pretty close to 90 percent of those elected and appointed officials in Liberia today.

SADLY, LAW ENFORCERS, including the police and transport ministry officials are afraid to speak out or saying only off the record that they are afraid of being held in contempt or summoned to answer why they “disrespected” an “honourable” lawmaker. “We see it a lot, lawmakers, judicial workers and other government plates – having on plates on two different cars but because of respect for them and fear of being summoned, we turn the other way,” said a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity.

THESE ANGST against traffic enforcers have been well documented.

IN MAY 2010, the U.S. State Department Report noted that Representative George W. Blamoh allegedly beat an LNP officer who attempted to impound his vehicle for improper parking and traffic violations. Blamoh was never reprimanded.

TWO MONTHS LATER, on July 10, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Togbah Mulbah allegedly ordered the beating of LNP officer Lexington Beh for impounding a truck belonging to the Lawmaker. The incident became politicized when partisans from the Lawmaker’s political party, the Congress for Democratic Change, surrounded Mulbah’s residence the next day as Police attempted to arrest him. Upon further investigation, an 11-count indictment was issued in July. The lawmaker remains on the job with no punishment for his action.

IT IS A SAD testament to the level Liberia has deteriorated today. Too many so-called big shots are getting away with heinous acts of oppression and wanton disregard for the laws of the land. While a nation professing to be democratic endures the wrath of a legislative and governing body that refuses to be checked and balanced; that refuses to have their assets scrutinized and refuses to submit to the Freedom of Information Act it passed into law and signed by the President. The world has certainly been fooled and so have Liberians. We can only hope and pray that those with the power in their hands to vote the right people in office that will seek their interest and not their own; that will put Liberia first and end the curse of insanity under the guise of a democratic state.

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