The public criticism against the return of commercial motorcyclists into the main streets of Monrovia wouldn’t go away for several germane reasons, key among them is the preservation of lives, which is a fundamental human right. Another apprehension in the public based on past experience is that criminals used bikes at night to execute armed robbery in communities, and the police have enough records on bike associated armed robbery incidents.
However, Liberia’s Police Inspector General Col. Patrick Sudue, who lifted the ban restricting motorcyclists to the city suburbs last week, advised or we should say ill-advised President George Manneh Weah that the decision is supportive of the President’s Pro-Poor Agenda, as Mr. Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) party drew large support from slum dwellers and youth, many of whom survive on the fringes of society by transporting people on bikes to make a living.
The IG’s argument seems to presuppose that his predecessors, who initially declared the city center and parts adjacent “no-go zones” for bike riders were insensitive to the plight of less fortunate youth struggling to make a living by engaging in the dangerous trade. But the fact the new police chief appears to be sweeping under the rug perhaps for political scores is that accident records from various hospitals, including his very institution placed death rate and other casualties among bike riders high on the statistics.
Grand Kru County Senator, Doctor Peter Coleman warns here that motorcyclists’, plying the streets of Monrovia amidst intense traffic, has serious public health implications.
Senator Coleman, a medical practitioner and former Minister of Health, notes that post-war disability in Liberia was around 16 percent, “but recent statistics revealed that we are moving towards 30 percent, because on a weekly basis, we have on an average five to six percent of young people that are becoming incapacitated, that have to be confined to wheelchairs, become permanently paralyzed because of motorcycle-related accidents.”
He quotes latest statistics from the Liberia Medical and Dental Association and studies conducted by the Department of Surgery at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center as revealing that the preponderance of motorcycle-related accidents have increased the level of disability among the populace, cautioning, “So, I think it’s high time that we take a more radical approach on this issue, because I can recall during the confirmation hearing of the Deputy Inspector General of Police, this issue was raised, but he evaded the question; we can’t be ambiguous when we come to critical issue like this that has a serious implication for the lives of the citizenry.”
The senator spoke on Tuesday, 6 March when the Senate plenary debated two separate communications from two senators, opposing the return of motorcyclists in the streets of Monrovia, once declared as “no go zones.”
In fact, Col. Sudue appeared before plenary on Thursday, but failed flatly in explaining why he ordered the return of bike riders in the main streets, ignoring the danger it poses to both passengers and the riders themselves.
Instead, he somersaulted and told lawmakers that he acted in error, apologizing for his unilateral decision. It is very frustrating that the Police IG, who is charged with protecting lives and property could proceed in such immature manner in face of the threats it poses to lives and properties.
Now that he failed to convince the senate why, we call on Col. Sudue to immediately rescind his decision because we believe it is counterproductive to the government’s “Pro-Poor Agenda”.
We find it very difficult in comprehending how returning young people riding bikes among trailers, trucks and other speeding vehicles at the expense of their lives, helps to improve their wellbeing, as the police chief wants us to believe.