The Immigration Check point at Gbarnga Iron gate was a dramatic scene last Friday after a taxi driver held an immigration officer for allegedly taking his L$10.
According to the driver Aaron Kolokollie otherwise known as play-boy, the officer is in the habit of collecting money from drivers on every trip they make on both sides of the check point.
Play-boy said as he approached the gate, the immigration officer refused to open the gate, but started demanding his usual fees before dropping the rope. Play-boy said he paid L$10 at the gate on his way from Gbarnga to Phebe, arguing that the L$10 was meant for both trips-And so there was no need for the officer to ask for another L$10.
This led to a heated argument between the two which nearly ended into a fist fight. “I only paid the second L$10 because I don’t want to delay my passengers. So, please open the gate and let me pass through,” driver demanded.
But the officer refused to open the gate instead and instead told the passengers to get down from the car and pass through the pedestrian gate. The instruction from the officer requesting the passengers to get down and walk did not go down well with the driver, thus both parties resorted to throwing insults at each other.
As the both parties went ahead with their insults, the immigration officer repeated his order urging the passengers in the car to get down and walk through the immigration gate. When play-boy, the driver saw his passengers getting down from the car, he got angry at the immigration officer and started demanding his L$10 dollars, which he pay to avoid his passengers getting down from the car.
His allegations were supported by another taxi driver, who said the attitude which was being displayed by the immigration officer was not strange at all. He said this is the constant practice of police and immigration officers assigned at these various check points on the highways, especially the Monrovia-Gbarnga highway.
He said police and immigration officers at the Mount Barclay’s Gate usually charge commercial drivers L$50. He said the same rate is also charge at the Margibi’s fifteen gate. He said drivers with loads are charge higher fees. The driver added that once this money is paid at the gate there can be no inspection of the vehicles.
“We’re really suffering in the hands of these immigration and police guys on this high way here. I see the reason why some drivers carry drugs and bad items in their vehicles, because if you paid your money, no checking again”, he said with laughter.