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Highway Passengers Under Threat

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Regardless of road conditions and seating capacities on vehicles, both passengers and drivers are still challenging government’s efforts to reduce the high rate of accidents on various highways across Liberia. Several vehicles, including trucks plying the Monrovia-Gbarnga highway were on Monday seen overloaded with goods, while passengers hung or sat on such goods.

Motorcyclists are also seen carrying hills of goods resting between them and their passengers, while at the same time resting additional goods on the motorcycle’s gas tank despite the ongoing general inspection exercise under the auspices of the Liberia National Police through its reactivated Highway Patrol unit.

In the midst of these challenges and other transportation issues on the highways across the country, drivers and motorcyclists are accusing police officers of allegedly harassment and extortion at various irregular check points by the police.

However, a number of “self-erected police checkpoints” have already been removed amidst alarms raised by drivers that police were only interested in alleged harassment and extortion from them, rather than curbing the traffic violations.

Meanwhile, the alleged police harassment on the Monrovia-Gbarnga Highway drew police authorities’ attention after drivers went on a go-slow action, refusing to take passengers.

The drivers protest compelled Police Director Christopher C. Massaquoi to dispatch a team of highway patrol officers headed by Assistant Commissioner for Public Safety Mickey Gray and Victor Gboryah from Police Central Head Quarters in Monrovia to remove all illegally erected checkpoints, which they did.

It can be recalled that during the launch of the highway patrol operations last week, the police boss blamed the failure of the highway and night patrol operations on police for taking money from motor operators. But highway patrol police have clarified that the recent allegations of harassment at police checkpoints did not come from highway patrol team, but some police officers.

Police have been repeatedly accused of taking little offers from drivers to allow their overloaded vehicle cross police checkpoints, rather than taking stern measures to serve as deterrent for other drivers.

Notwithstanding, Police Spokesman George Bardue has warned that those who erected the unauthorized police checkpoints on the Gbarnga highway will be dealt with according to the law when seen.

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