Travelers Groan Over Multiple Checkpoints along Monrovia-Ganta Highway
Monrovia-Gbarnga Highway – The hellish experience business people and other commuters plying the ever-busy Monrovia-Gbarnga highway go through daily, cannot be blamed on the deathtrap nature of the road alone.
Report by Selma Lomax, [email protected]
The numerous road blocks mounted by security agents on the road, apparently to nab those who smuggle illicit substances into the country, have been pointed at as one major reason why there is near traffic crisis on that axis.
Although the Liberia National Police (LNP) is said to have banned mounting road blocks on one of the nation’s highways, investigation by FrontPageAfrica, shows that the ban is being breached by the police themselves.
A drive from Monrovia to Gbarnga shows that contrary to the orders of the Regional Police Commander, Morris Tehmeh, banning roadblocks on the highway, roadblocks mounted by the police and other security agencies adorn that stretch of the highway.
Between Kakata and Ganta, one can count over eight checkpoints manned by different security agents.
The security agencies and others present along that route include the Liberia Immigration Service, Drugs Enforcement Agency, Federation of Road Transport Union of Liberia, Genuine Road Transport Union of Liberia and LNP.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica on the issue, a Salala assigned police officer, who requested anonymity, lamented that his fellow police officers have illegally taken over the entire route.
Fuming with anger, he called on the LNP high command to do something about this ugly trend.
The police officer regretted that despite the Regional Commander’s warning that agencies should limit checkpoints on the road, in order to facilitate trade and easy movement of goods, the highway is still populated by the police.
“Despite the Regional Commander’s warning that agencies should limit checkpoints on the highway, the police have taken over the highway from Kakata to Ganta and it is affecting free movement of goods and people on the road. From Monrovia to Ganta, we have about 20 checkpoints.”
“They stop every vehicle carrying goods, thereby causing heavy traffic on the road. At nights, the checkpoints are up to 10 and it cripples movement. All the vehicles can stay on one spot for almost six hours for a journey that is supposed to last an hour and thirty minutes,” he fumed.
The most visible among these law enforcement agencies on that axis is the police.
It is a common sight to see the uniformed security personnel at checkpoints extorting money from hapless drivers plying the route.
Apart from those traveling on the highway, the practice is also meted out to commercial motorists plying some roads off the highway.
For instance, passengers and drivers going through highway, are daily being subjected to undue delay as a result of these illegal checkpoints.
The major victims of these illegal roadblocks on that highway, are traders travelling to counties adjacent to Bong or neighboring countries – Guinea and La Cote d’Ivoire.
Some aggrieved traders told FrontPageAfrica, that this illicit act hinders trade within the sub-region. According to them, because of this and other factors, they usually increase the prices of their goods.
According to one businessman, Customs only has two recognized checkpoints that were approved.
The Police in Margibi County, which is along the stretch of the road, dismissed the claims of extortion and illegal road blocks. An officer, who debunked the allegations in a telephone chat with this newspaper, insisted that they have obeyed the Regional Commander’s directive on the issue. “Our men are no longer on that highway. It is not true that the police are still there. The Regional Commander gave a directive and we have obeyed. Even recently the Margibi County Police Detachment also emphasized on that directive. So, we don’t have our men on that road,” he insisted.