[bsa_pro_ad_space id=1]

CommentaryFeaturesGeneralLiberia news

Commentary: Tackling Liberia’s Motorcycle Rider Challenges: Lessons from Rwanda

By the Amos Sawyer Foundation

(Monrovia, Liberia 27 May 2024) Liberia’s bustling streets are a testament to the resilience and adaptability of its people. Among the most prominent features of the urban transportation system are the ubiquitous motorcycle riders, known locally as “pen-pen” riders. According to the Center for Peace Studies, ex-combatants and conflict-affected youth make up the vast majority of Liberia’s approximately 175,000 motorcycle taxi drivers. This sector emerged after Liberia’s civil war as a critical economic sector, providing cyclists with livelihood opportunities and constituting a space for socio-political youth mobilization.

While these motorcycles serve as a vital means of transport for many Liberians, they have also caused dangerous and sometimes fatal road conditions. Until now, the sector has been largely unregulated. However, with the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Liberia, through the Liberia National Police, and the Motorcycle and Tricycle Union, steps are being taken towards regulation.

“This new agreement and its enforcement of designated routes, vehicle and licensing inspections, and the mandatory wearing of helmets is a great first step towards sector regulation. However, Liberia can do more; let’s look at the Rwanda solution,” said Frantz Sawyer, Founder/Executive Director of the Amos Claudius Sawyer Foundation.

“Rwanda,” he explained, “was in a similar situation with unregulated, unlicensed, and untrained motorcyclists who had no helmets and no incentive to comply with the rules of the road or the law.”

He said that Rwanda implemented rigorous training programs that covered traffic laws, customer service, and basic first aid, significantly improving road safety. Additionally, the East African country streamlined the motorcycle taxi sector with digital platforms to track operations, facilitating easy monitoring and regulation. These measures ensured compliance with safety standards and provided valuable data for traffic management. Riders were also encouraged to work closely with the police by rating and reviewing their experiences with motorcyclists. This transparency helped deter criminal activities and build trust between riders and the communities.

To ensure compliance with regulations, Rwandan motorcyclists now have access to affordable loans for purchasing motorcycles, discounted insurance rates, and membership in cooperative societies that offer additional benefits.

Taking these lessons from Rwanda, Mr. Sawyer said that if Liberia instituted similar measures in collaboration with the private sector, safety and professionalism among motorcyclists could be significantly improved.

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=1]

The “Liberia Solution” has already begun with the designation of routes for motorcyclists, the mandatory wearing of helmets, and the requirement for motorcycle licenses. “What’s needed now in Liberia,” said Mr. Sawyer, “is the establishment of comprehensive and mandatory road and traffic safety programs, the development of digital platforms to register and monitor motorcycle operations, and the enforcement of safety regulations. Encouraging riders through community policing initiatives will also increase accountability and trust within the sector.”

With private sector collaboration, the government can provide incentives for motorcyclists to upscale their businesses through affordable loans and discounted insurance for those who adhere to established regulations, thereby motivating compliance and supporting the formalization of the sector. Public awareness campaigns can also promote a culture of safety among riders and passengers.

“The experiences of Rwanda provide a valuable blueprint for transformation of the sector, demonstrating that with the right policies and commitment, significant improvements are achievable,” said Mr. Sawyer.

The Amos Sawyer Foundation is committed to supporting these efforts and advocating for sustainable solutions to enhance the lives of all Liberians.

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=1] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=2] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=3] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=4] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=5] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=6]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

two × 3 =

Back to top button