Monrovia – Living conditions of officers of the Liberia National Police seem not to be improving even with the change in management.
Report by Edwin G. Genoway – [email protected]
With the improvement in the professionalism of the Police, many expected that their living conditions would also improve under the current management headed by Inspector General Gregory Coleman.
However, the issue of extorting money from taxi drivers has been a serious challenge for authorities of the LNP to overcome.
Police extorting money from drivers has been an old age problem counting from the days of former President Charles Taylor where the late Joseph B. Tate served as Police Director up to the regime of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf where former Police Directors including Munah Sieh, Marc Amblard and Chris Massaquoi all of whom could not curtail the problem.
The level of transformation currently being brought to the Police force by its present Inspector General Gregory Coleman and his Deputy Abraham Kromah has not been able to prevent officers from taking money from taxi drivers and motorcyclists.
Police officers are mainly seen at intersections, commercial areas like Waterside, Duala, and Red Light collecting LD$10, 20, 50 or 100 from drivers and bike riders.
Some Police officers at the commercial City of Red Light were caught on FrontPageAfrica’s camera harassing drivers making U-turn at intersection of Somalia Drive, Kakata Highway and Central Monrovia.
Three of the Police officers were seen taking money from drivers as the drivers made U-turns.
It was observed by our reporter that as the drivers turned to head to central Monrovia, one of the Police officers would stand in front of the taxi, while the other approach the driver to collect the money.
It was done interchangeably. When a Policeman stops the car by standing in front it, another officer would engage the driver to collect the money, subsequently when another car makes a U-turn, a different officer would stop it, while the other officer collects the money.
All of the Police officers seen collecting money from drivers could not be identified because none of them had badge numbers except for one who had badge number 0483.
Some drivers who fell prey to the officers told FrontPageAfrica that they had no choice but to do what the officers want.
Paul Dixon, a taxi driver who had just given one of the officers LD$50 explained that he had no problem paying the money to the officers. He said, the money is intended to buy pardon whenever they are arrested.
“We will pay it. For me after I pay that money and I violate I will be forgiven by them, and even when I put load in my car no officer can arrest me because I can drop their small-small thing,” he explained.
Petty traders in the commercial district of Red-Light are also victims of extortion by men in Police uniforms. Some told this paper that they are often harassed and their goods are often taken by these officers.
“To give our goods back to us, we can give them small thing like LD$300 and above before our goods can be returned to us.”
“We’re force to give it; if we don’t, our goods remain with them and we don’t have any one to complain to,” Yassah Morris, 32, a street seller explained.
Commercial motorcyclists are no exception to the Police action of extortion.
Kelvin Jah, a commercial motorcyclist said the Police officers are getting rich from the money they collect from bike riders.
“Can you imagine when these guys arrest us they request for money that we cannot report to our bosses.”
“Normally, we bikers report LD$500 a day, and when a Policeman arrest us, they request for LD$1,500 or US$20 to let us go,” he said.
“We are poor boys running our bikes but we cannot get peace from these Police officers,” he lamented.
Many believed that the Police action of collecting money from taxi drivers and marketers is due to the low salaries being paid to them by the LNP.