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“Taxi Drivers Violate Traffic Rules” – New Dawn: Rejoinder

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In an article under the headline quoted above (New Dawn, November 21, 2013), the newspaper held that “The ban on commercial motorcyclists from plying the main streets of Monrovia seems to have given taxi drivers here an opportunity to grossly violate traffic regulations. Due to the huge population of commuters in Monrovia, Taxi drivers have begun to take two passengers in the front seat(s) in violation of the traffic law”.

The Issues

Indeed, under the Unitary system of government, “elected” mayors of the past as well as the present, appointed mayors of both urban and rural Liberia appear NOT to have the required power/authority for city planning – streets, population, police, traffic management/control, urban transit, street addresses (for mail delivery), city code, electricity, water & sewer, etc. – and governance necessary for efficient/effective delivery of social, economic and political services to the rapidly-increasing population of city dwellers, especially, the City of Monrovia, the capital city of our country.

Urban Transport

Confronted with the problem of mass-people movement or efficient, urban transport for the City of Monrovia, as public servant having national, advisory responsibility/obligation, we submitted to government in 1982, a relevant, public-policy proposal based on the relevant principles of economics, designed to address, reasonably and efficiently, the problem of urban transport. That proposal was submitted again (1984) and again in 1986.

But these proposals were ignored, apparently, because of the prevailing, unitary structure of our government, duly defined, with legal precision, by and enshrined in our constitutions of 1847 and 1986, that all power/authority – administrative, socio-economic and political – is vested in a president. This power had been and is centralized in, controlled by and dispensed from Monrovia (the Executive Mansion) throughout the years of our country’s existence as an independent nation.

Realizing, from public service experience that dedicated, diligent and efficient delivery of public services will depend, and be achieved, only, upon decentralization of administrative, economic and political power in Liberia, we submitted a Paper on “Decentralization” to the National Conference Vision 2024 held on the future of Liberia, on July 19, 1998.

Today, 2013, some fifteen (15) years later, “National Decentralization/Local Governance” is a declared national policy for “Public Sector service delivery”, due to the encouragement, courage, foresight and vision of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

However, the problem of local/national, public-sector/service delivery remains a painful constant; this condition continues to afflict local/national communities with impunity. For effective/efficient delivery of socio-economic and political services, the local, county governments should and must be organized consistent with populations of their sub-structures, competent and transparent. But research shows that county administrations – regional, political/administrative sub-divisions nationwide – are saddled with policy contradictions and confusions due to administrative decisions and policies made and dispensed by bureaucrats sitting in their Monrovia offices, creating more and more new sub-structures such as clan and paramount chiefdoms, townships, administrative and statutory districts, in addition to existing sub-structures created by ancient, Liberia Law governing Hinterland Liberia, without the benefit of current, research information. 

In her recent, Annual Message delivered on January 28, 2013, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf drew national attention to this disabling condition when she observed that “. . . the challenges of the Decentralization Policy . . . the present local (in the counties) governance structures are bloated, and difficult to manage. For example, there are more than 149 cities – 33 in Sinoe (County) . . . 93 Administrative Districts; 251 Paramount Chiefs; more than 689 Clan Chiefs; 1,410 General Town Chiefs; and 250 Township Commissioners. The government has to deliver services to more than 16,000 Towns and Villages. As if these statistics were not daunting enough, the boundaries of all these localities overlap, leading to confusion over jurisdiction and administrative authority . . .” 

This prevailing, disabling condition gives rise to questions regarding the final locus of the power/authority for national decision-making, in the light of or given the fact that transportation/communication, a critical issue in the case at hand, is the “premier, multiplier effect” or public policy  requirement of PRIORITY treatment/implementation in national development – socio-cultural, economic and political.

Reasonably put, who makes final, national planning/development decisions? Is the current President of our nation, a national leader with profound, extensive background of the requisite training/experience, exposure to and experienced the socio-economic and political dynamics of national/international nation-building, informed on or know the prevailing thought of the average young, not-so-young, old and not-so-old Liberian about these and related, critical issues and their devastating impact on his/her (average Liberian’s) life?  Or is the President, reasonably “isolated” for personal security during these dangerous days, is  “briefed”, simply, by “gate-keepers” of that which they (gate-keepers) choose to tell the President?

These questions are inevitable, firstly, because the City of Monrovia, the capital city of our nation, is breaking at the seams due to various, socio-economic and political burdens, compounded by lack or want of efficient, affordable, adequate, safe and timely, urban transport service, comparable to its status. Transportation/communications – all-weather, safe, efficient national roads/highways and airports; and modern telephone, internet and fax services, with facilitating electricity, are the major, attractive, prudent investment incentives, while the demand for direct foreign investment, including foreign capital, is highly competitive and on the increase, especially, within developing countries.

And secondly, because we, the Republic of Liberia, have had what it would have taken, in the past, and more than what it will take NOW to plan, implement priority, public service delivery Policy/Program. For, have it all (1), the need; (2), knowledge.- education, training/experience & commitment; (3), resources – human, natural & financial assets (What is Wrong with Liberians, The Analyst Liberia, June 12, 2013)

Finally, this important reminder: No profit-seeking investor or investment promoter will invest, his/her personal plus loan capital, in a country or community without national transportation/communications, including such socio-economic services as water/sewer and electricity.

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