Police Bow to Protesting Drivers -Demolish Illegal Checkpoints
Hundreds of protesting drivers plying the Monrovia-Gbarnga route on Monday forced the Highway Patrol Squad of the Liberia National Police to remove numerous unauthorized checkpoints erected along the highway. The illegal checkpoints, setup by the police had prompted a go-slow action staged by highway drivers of the General Transportation Union of Liberia.
Executing Police Director Christopher C. Massaquoi’s mandate, Highway Patrol team senior officer Victor Gboryah joined later by police Chief of Traffic Mickey Gray, led a highway team in convoy from Monrovia to Gbarnga, Bong County, demolishing several makeshift checkpoints used by some officers to harass drivers and extort money.
The highway team met with the President of the Liberia National Transport Union William Flomo and several protesting drivers, who had packed their vehicles for hours, over claims that police officers were harassing and taking money from them at various self-erected checkpoints on the highway.
The drivers had earlier refused to take passengers until relevant actions were taken to stop the officers from allegedly harassing them, thus raising national concerns here.
But the highway patrol team clarified that the alleged harassment was being carried out by some police officers and not the highway patrol police as being rumored in the public.
Following a meeting with the highway patrol bosses Micky Gray and Victor Gboryah, Transport Union President William Flomo and fellow drivers agreed to resume their normal driving, but hoped they would no longer experience further harassment from the police.
Mr. Flomo had complained that there were 18 mushrooming checkpoints erected from Monrovia to Gbarnga, thus creating serious embarrassment for drivers plying the highway. The police however warned drivers against traffic violations and overloading of vehicles at the detriment of passengers.
At the conflict resolution in Gbarnga, the highway officers said while there will be no more unauthorized checkpoints; the police will not equally tolerate drivers taking two passengers in the front seat as the practice endangers lives of commuters.
As the police convoy departed from Monrovia, several traffic violations and overloading of vehicles were observed, with passengers sitting or hanging over opened-top trucks and pickups jammed- packed with loads.
Violators were issued stern warnings and told to pack off the road where necessary, to reduce the weight of loads on their vehicles before plying the route.