Motorcycle taxis ban is holding

By Kai Toteh| November 11, 2013

Passengers waiting for buses
Passengers wait for buses and cars on Somalia Drive, New Georgia Estate junction on the first day the ban of motorbikes' ban

Monrovia:- Major streets of Monrovia, including Somalia Drive which begins from Freeport to Red Light and from Central Monrovia to Red Light, were completely cleared of motorcyclists without an incident.

In an effort to preempt potential threats by disgruntle elements, Police carried out vigorous patrols in streets that motorcyclists were forbidden from using.

Earlier, travelers around Monrovia were delayed to get to their various destinations because of lack of sufficient public transportation, and motorbikes that were used to supplement the transportation system were off the streets.

At New Georgia Estate’s junction, hundreds of people lined the sidewalks in frustration while they scrambled for cars, buses and even trucks to make their way to various places of business. At the New Georgia Estate’s junction motorcyclists started to form in small groups, though according to them, they were only holding discussion about how to get to Steven Tolbert Estate in Gardnersville, where they were expected to hold a meeting with Motorcyclists Union’s leaders. Police stepped in to disperse the group.

Later in the day, tension seemed to be in the air as various roads leading to Central Monrovia and other places of businesses were tremendously crowded. But tension lessened after school buses commonly referred to as “Yellow Buses” dozens of them, began to pick up stranded passengers from around Monrovia.

A day after the ban took effect, Monrovia and its environs have been calm, though it was Thanksgiving Day, and not many activities can go on. Observers said the ban will hold but passengers will continue to be stranded, particularly during Christmas season.

From Red Light to Free Port, in the early hours, hundreds of passengers were seen running after cars, buses and trucks to catch their ride to their various places. Later, the rush caved in and passengers began to catch their ride with ease.

Dozens of people, including motorcyclists who spoke to INSIGHT on Wednesday and yesterday, differed on two major things such as the impact the removal of motorbikes from major streets of Monrovia and its environ is having on the people with respect to their daily movements, and the potential resurfacing of crimes, especially armed robbery, which most people including the government blamed on motorcyclists.

Some told The Voice of Liberia the government of Liberia’s decision to remove motorcyclists from the streets was not properly planned and termed it rash, while others said they are happy major streets of Monrovia are now free of motorbikes.  According to them, motorcyclists, on a daily basis do not obey safety and traffic rules, thereby causing mayhem in and around Monrovia. One of them, Miss Annie Jones from the Red Light Market said, “We will get used to motorbikes not running the major streets, adding we got cars here but only the roads are bad.”

But two motorcyclists in the New Georgia area who spoke to The Voice of Liberia, but asked for anonymity because they were only speaking out of frustration, said the removal of motorbikes from major streets will not hold, adding if government does not reconsider its decision after holding consultations with their leaders, they, motorcyclists will have no other alternative but to become outlaws, adding, they have nowhere else to make their livings. Some motorcyclists were overheard making threats of resurrection of robbery, armed robbery and other crimes.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of another round of talks to take place between authorities of the Liberian National Police and leaders of the Motorcyclists Association. The pronouncement was made Wednesday evening by Deputy Police Director for Operation AB Kromah. The meeting was held last Thursday. It was learned that decision by the Liberian Government stands.

Since last Wednesday, the day the removal of motorbikes from the streets happened, there has been no incident reported, and motorcyclists are for the most part and so far cooperating with authorities contrary to fear that they would have challenged the order. The removal of motorbikes from major streets of Monrovia and suburb has given Monrovia’s streets a boost with respect to decongestion, some residents of Monrovia and its environ observed