Liberia: NTA Insists On Transporting Any Group That Comes With Money To Be Transported To Register In Other Districts And Counties Despite Warnings From Communities
MONROVIA – Authorities of the National Transit Authority (NTA) appear to be unbothered over persistent threats from citizens against attacking public vehicles used to “truck” voters to and from their respective communities to participate in the ongoing Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) exercise.
By Obediah Johnson
Liberians are expected to go to the polls on October 10 this year, to elect their new leaders, according to a timetable released by the National Elections Commission (NEC).
As part of the process, the BVR exercise commenced on Monday, March 20.
Since the commencement of the exercise, citizens continue to raise alarm over the “trucking” of non-domiciled residents to and from their respective districts and counties by incumbent lawmakers and other aspirants by use of buses owned by the government, through the NTA and other private and commercial vehicles.
Established in 2009, the NTA is the public transportation company of the Government of Liberia responsible to provide access to affordable, convenient and reliable mass transit services to the people of Liberia.
Speaking in an interview with Frontpage Africa via telephone recently, NTA Managing Director Herbie McCauley denied that NTA drivers are engaged into aiding and abetting voters’ trucking though there is no mandate for them not to do so.
According to him, the entity was established to serve the public, and it such, it will not hesitate to provide transportation services for anyone.
“To my own knowledge, I don’t think that anything like that (NTA buses transporting trucked voters) is going on. If they have any evidence let them come up with it.”
“We are here to serve the public or masses and so if anybody comes and wants to use the NTA bus, we will be able to provide the transport. That’s what we do.”
The latest comments made by the NTA Managing Director comes in the wake of increasing being sounded by the locals against the influencing of the results for representative and senatorial candidates by citizens who do not live in their respective districts and counties.
Mr. Joseph D. Nyumah, a former rebel general of the defunct Liberia United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) is an eminent citizen of electoral district # 17,
He threatened that both public and private vehicles would be at risk if they transport those who are not domiciled to register and vote in their district.
“We are consulting other community leaders and the youths. For the second week of the voters’ registration, any attempt by motorbike, bus to bring people who are not residing here, they will not be registered. If you are bringing people to overshadow us, you are putting that property and people at risk. We are not going to hesitate to resist anything.”
“Trucking denies the citizens of a constituency their rightful choice to represent them. Whenever trucking is done and someone wins, he or she will always say ‘da my money put me there’. Let the citizens who live in the district sit and decide who to vote for. We want to let the International Community and the public know that during the following week of the voters’ registration in district # 17, there will be no trucking. Do not bring your car, motorbike, truck or caterpillar to bring people to register. If you bring it, you put them at risk.”
General Nyumah threatened that a taskforce will be established to meet and engage all stakeholders involve with trucking.
“The first thing is, we are going to meet and engage them one on one to stop trucking people and they should come and convince us to vote for them. If we stop them from bringing people or ask them to remove their cars from here and they want to resist, we too will resist and the consequences will remain high.”
Misusing public transportation service
For his part, the Chairman of the Nelson Mandela Intellectual Forum Abubakar Sidikie Dukuly claimed that the true essence of the government’s transportation service being rendered through the National Transit Authority (NTA) is being misused during this voter registration period.
Dukuly said NTA buses continue to serve as avenue for “failed and greedy” politicians to appease their voters’ “trucking” appetite.
He noted that though citizens have consistently complained on the matter, the NTA continues to aid the act.
“For us in district # 17-if we see NTA buses bringing in people from other districts to come register here, we will question those buses. This is a warning to the Director for the NTA. Don’t allow the government public transportation service to be used to take people from one district to another.”
Risking government’s properties
Citizens across the country are disappointed over the failure of authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to make a statement or take decisive actions against aspirants that are engaged into voters trucking.
They believed that the situation has “gone out of hand”, and poses a threat to the wellbeing and true representation at the level of the National Legislature.
As a result of this, they have begun finding alternatives to secure the political future of their respective districts and counties.
They are planning to either violently prevent the movement of vehicles that are involved with trucking or engaged those who are involved to desist.
The failure of the NTA to put in place measures to address the situation and safeguard government’s properties may even endanger the lives of their drivers and conductors.
A bus belonging to the NTA was reportedly smashed by unknown persons while transporting trucked voters to go and register in Suehn Mecca district, Bomi County. However, authorities of the NTA have denied the incident.
NTA buses which are owned by the government and intended to provide unhindered transportation service to citizens, especially less fortunate Liberians may be
Already, there is a huge transportation gap in post-conflict nation.
Liberians, especially the ordinary citizens are seen in long queues standing in the sun for hours waiting for NTA and other commercial buses to transport them to and from their respective destinations.
These citizens will continue to “catch hell” and be denied the opportunity to pay less and benefit from public transportation if authorities of the NTA continue to allow government-owned buses to be chartered by “failed and greedy” politicians to accomplishment their mission during this Biometric Voters’ Registration (BVR) for personal gains.