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NPHIL recommends hygiene measures for motorcyclists and passengers

New safety measures instituted by the Liberian National Police require each commercial bike operator to carry two helmets, one for the passenger and one for the operator, as well as a reflective jacket.

By Naneka A. Hoffman

Monrovia, May 20, 2024: The National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) has backed the Liberia National Police’s (LNP’s) safety measure requiring commercial motorcyclists and passengers to wear helmets and observe other health protocols.

At a joint press conference over the weekend in Congo Town, LNP Inspector General Col. Gregory Coleman said the enforcement of a statutory helmet-use policy was enacted into law in 1972.

The police chief explained that plans are underway to adjust the regulations as motorcyclists and passengers continue stranded in the streets during the enforcement exercise.

However, Coleman pointed out that the regulation will not be relaxed by the Liberia National Police.

The Police IG apologized to the Liberian people for the embarrassment that wearing helmets may have caused the citizenry during this period.

According to him, plans are underway to train motorcyclists as the police continue to enforce safety measures for motorcyclists and passengers for the country’s common good.

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“You are allowed to wear what is considered [an] open helmet because people keep asking us whether such helmets are allowed in the streets,” he explained.

Col. Coleman revealed that the LNP will start to enforce the 11 PM restrictions on the movement of commercial motorcyclists to reduce criminality across the country.

He noted that the LNP will not relent in using rattan on motorcyclists who refuse to obey traffic safety measures.

Beginning next month, he warned that the LNP will start impounding vehicles that are not road-worthy for the safety of the citizenry.

He detailed that consultations are underway between the LNP and the Ministry of Transport to meet with the importers of motorcycles.

The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that if someone buys a motorcycle, they should obtain a plate and insurance sticker that will enable the motorcyclists to avoid problems in the streets.

For her part, NPHIL Director General Madam Jane A. MaCauley said the exercise is to help mitigate the potential health risk of infectious disease spreading among passengers who may travel by motorcycle.

She maintained that NPHIL recommends that all motorcyclists and passengers adhere to effective hygiene practices. 

NPHIL recommends that motorcyclists clean their helmets regularly (in between passengers’ use, daily, weekly, and monthly, using disinfectant spray).

Others avoid placing their gloves inside the helmets, passengers should consider covering their heads before wearing the helmets, and passengers may choose to wear a nose mask as an additional health protocol.

Additionally, NPHIL recommended that passengers who frequently travel by motorcycle consider carrying their helmet and sanitizer spray, among other items.

Madam MaCauley mentioned that on Wednesday, 15 May 2024, NPHIL and the LNP convened a meeting to discuss potential health concerns in response to the LNP’s decision to enforce the statutory helmet use for all motorcyclists and passengers across the country.

She lauded the LNP for the enforcement of the wearing of helmets by motorcyclists and passengers.

She noted that this is intended to reduce injuries and fatalities in the country. The NPHIL stated that the primary intent and objective of enforcing helmet use is to ensure public safety.

She detailed that the government is also concerned about potential unintended consequences involving bike riders and passengers.

Madam MaCauley stressed that one concern about helmet-wearing is the risk of pathogenic microorganisms (bacterial or fungi) transmission between passengers through sharing helmets, which could potentially cause infections.

According to the latest World Health Organization data published in 2020, Liberia’s road traffic accident (RTA) deaths accounted for 1,920 (5.7%) of total deaths.

The NPHIL Director General observed that the enforcement of a statutory helmet-use policy will help reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from motorcycle accidents.

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