From keen observation, opposition leaders, Civil Society, religious leaders, human right, socio-economic activists and even most of the print media spend too much time on capturing newspapers headlines on administrative and political corruption at the highest government level so as to provoke the general public disapproval despite efforts by the government to curb the cancer.
As conscience of the Liberian society and also agent of change that desire the betterment for the people of Liberia, their roles and responsibilities cut across the government when it comes to fighting corruption. In other words, the activism for stemming the tides of corruption must take a holistic societal approach.
But it seems to be they are not stretching their tentacles to other happenings that are silent even though categorized as corruption inimical to the betterment of the people of Liberia.
One of the silent corruptions that seem to be an old age problem despite the generation of daily proceeds by Unions is the unanswered question from commercial drivers including themotorcyclists popularly known by Liberians as “Phen-Phen” riders.
Against this backdrop, the caption of this article was framed so as to draw the attentions of those activists and also agent of change to now start to holistically fight the cancer that we all called corruption.
Before discussing the intricacies of the unanswered question, let’s conceptualize silent corruption in a sensible way that you embrace.
In my opinion, silent corruption can be conceptualized as any practice or system when analyze and clearly proven to be tantamount to corruption but never or rarely attracts the attention of the print media headlines. Silent corruption occurs across a much wider set of transactions directly affecting a large number of beneficiaries but less frequently observed because it is not about public officials.
As it relates to Commercial drives including Phen-Phen riders, there is a set of transaction with the unions. On a daily basis, commercial vehicles such as buses, taxies and motor cycles paid specific amount of money as fees collected from passengers to the federation of transport Union and the motor cycle Union.
As a form of social contract, the beneficiaries are the drivers and the passengers. They paid their money to these drivers for service render, the drivers in return paid to the Unions. But what is appalling is how the daily fees or money is being accounted for.
Take for practical example, in some Countries in West Africa, such as Ghana; you will see terminal build from fees collected from every commercial vehicle.
One of the places in Ghana of how you see accountability the benefit all parties involved in the transactions is the Achimota new station for commercial vehicles. At this station, you will see terminal that protect the passengers from rainfall and even hot sunlight.
Let’s come back to Liberia, while it is true that we acknowledge the quality effort of the federation of transport union, but there is something appalling that needs attention. For ages the Union have existed collecting money from drivers that cannot exactly tell you about where the money go or what happen to the money collected from passengers. One would have taught that the daily fees could have built terminal for passengers which is also part of development.
Or it is the Ministry of Transport responsible for building terminal? If so, what is the main reason or essence for collecting money when passengers continue to be wet by rainfall, flogged by blazing sunlight and at the same expose to pick pockets or criminals?
Let’s look at few cases. At the Paynesville, every bus or taxi that picks up passengers from specific station pay fees to the union. For example, katata parking station, Ganta, Gbangar, Buchanna, etc. station Union collect money from drivers for every trip.
Probably half of the passenger money. The same also happened at Waterside, Duala market and other places for ages yet no terminal for passengers. For example, go to the Macdonald Street, Johnson street bus stations where union collects money but no terminal for passengers.
The Phen-Phen operators or riders. They too have a union that collects daily fees. Moreover, for every brand new motor bike, a sticker valued $10.00 USD is paid to the Union. In Paynesville, Phen-Phen at all junctions such as Gobachu, Pipeline, etc.
Pay LD $10.00 a day for a ticket issued by the union. Where the money go or how it is spend is yet to be explained exactly by the operators. The same also happened in other places in Monrovia and its environs.
Although the Unions have always claimed to have operated in the interest of the both the operators and passengers which of course deserve applaud. But its failure despite long years of existence to provide terminal has always subjected it to corruption allegation.
It is very much surprising that this silent corruption is yet to claim the attentions of people and the print media headlines despite the prolonged existence. It is because they are not among the passengers under the rainfall and blazing sunlight? Or it has nothing to do with development?
Activists claiming to be in the interest of the people must not only focus their attentions on the government. Part of their responsibilities as agent of change is to expose any practice tantamount to societal ills. For so long the Unions have collected money that cannot be published as annual report. It is still a surprise that opposition, activists or human right advocate in the very interest of the people yet to see what is tantamount or could be interpreted as silent corruption.
All they care for is telling the people about corruption in the government. Yes it is good that they blow the whistle. But the same whistle must be blown on all silent corruptions inimical to our post conflict development.
It is the candid opinion of this article that if these people can start looking at silent corruptions outside the government, it would help to pave the way for stemming the tides of corruption as the public enemy. In other words, what different will make for only blowing whistle at the national level when other segment of our society is still face with silent corruptions?
Finally, silent corruption often goes unchallenged when people do not speak out about it. As such, it becomes part of the sub-culture of the larger society. In other words, society silence about any ugly practice or ill that is inherently illegitimate can appear legitimate. This is what is termed as legitimizing the illegitimate.
By Ambrues M. Nebo