Liberia: Commercial Drivers Want Govt Halt Vehicle Registration Inspection Until Next Year

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Monrovia – Diada Moses, a taxi driver in Monrovia is still unsure why the Ministry of Transport is carrying out vehicles’ inspection in the wake of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic.

“As you know the government had the country on lockdown and they also restricted us to leave the streets by 3pm every day there was no business running and we were not making money,” the cabbie told FrontPageAfrica last week.

Moses, like most commercial drivers are urging the government to halt the ongoing vehicle inspection exercise and postpone the process to next year, March 2020 to give them more time to recover losses incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Ministry of Transport recently began carrying out inspection of motor vehicles operating in the country ensuring that cars plying the streets of Monrovia not registered with the government be registered and identified.

In the wake of the fees attached to the process, commercial drivers have raised alarm that it is difficult for them to generate such money especially at the time when the country, like the rest of the world is going through a health pandemic with the deadly COVID-19.

Mr. Prince Gibson, President of the Liberia Unique Drivers Organization (LUDO), appealed to the government to extend the time of the inspection to enable drivers to generate money to pay for their license.

Said Gibson: “We are not forcing it; it is an appeal to the government to see reason and extend the time of the inspection so our drivers can hustle and register their vehicles. We are appealing that the process be postponed to next year, March 2012. By then, our drivers will have done a long hustle to pay their registration fees.”

Mr. Gibson said the transportation sector is currently challenging for drivers who had been sitting home for months without taking pay to feed their family, “All of what our drivers were saved during the three to four months, they were sitting home, some of them even borrowed money to keep their family up during that period. Now that the lockdown has ended, we as drivers are just beginning to get back on our feet; so, we need time to recover,”

Mr. Gibson added: ”Even car owners that most of us work for don’t have money right now to register their vehicles because money had not been coming from the traffic for months. They are challenged like us, so, we want the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Transport to see reason and suspend the process to next year to enable drivers to generate the fees.”

The drivers’ union also wrote the Ministry of Transport making their request formal. In a communication to the Ministry, dated August 18, 2020, the drivers wrote: ”As a union seeking drivers and commuters welfare in the transport sector of Liberia, we request through this medium that you kindly extend said inspection process to the year 2021. The appeal is due to the setback the Coronavirus has brought on the people of Liberia which drivers and commuters are no exception. Therefore, sir, we are of the opinion that granting our request will bring relief to driers and the general public throughout the country as they strive for individual or collective economic recovery.”

The inspection exercise is aimed at making sure drivers renew their licenses, renew their vehicle registration, and ensure that all vehicles plying the streets of Liberia are insured. 

As the drivers plead for an extension of the inspection process, they had also disclosed that the proliferation of fake transport documents, is creating embarrassment for drivers.

Mr. Gibson expressed that many drivers are being duped with fake documents by people believed to be employees of the Ministry of Transport; something he believes is creating a problem for the transport sector in Liberia. “The guys are always uniformed and they are normally seen in the compound of the Ministry and when the drivers get there and pay their money legally at the desk and their documents are given, the next thing you will see a police officer will arrest the driver on the traffic claiming that the same document issued us from the ministry is fake,” he said.

The drivers say they are appealing to the government to put security measures in place to prevent the duplication of documents by its own employees.

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