7 February 2013

Liberia: LMTU Split Over Restriction for 'Pen Pen' Riders

The Liberia Motorcycle Transport Union (LMTU) is split over recent statements made by the Union Secretary General that the organization would no longer abide by the 10PM restriction for motorcyclists. The LMTU is the umbrella organization of motorcyclists that are general referred to as 'pen pen' riders in Liberia.

It can be recalled that during the festive of 2012, the LNP and the LMTU signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to impose a restriction on the movement of motorcycles across the country. The move was aimed at reducing the high rate of crimes, especially armed robbery.

According to the President of the LMTU, Mr. Kutubu Sheriff, comments by Mr. Robert Sammie, Chief Scribe of the LMTU that the Union would no longer abide by the 10PM restriction for motorcyclists does not reflect the official position of the Union.

Mr. Sheriff told a local radio station Wednesday, February 6, 2013 that his office has been undermined by the LMTU chief scribe. Based on this, the President of the LMTU called on 'pen pen' riders not to adhere to the defiant call made by the SG. He clarified that at no time did executives or members of the Union resolve to go against the 10PM restriction of motorcyclists, contrary to the assertions by the SG.

He then appealed to the motorcyclists to remain calm and carry out their normal activities in the confine of the laws.

Recently, Mr. Sammie told reports that the LMTU would no longer abide by the 10:00PM restriction that is being enforced by the Liberia National Police (LNP). According to him, the time frame set for the execution of the 10PM restriction expired since January 15, 2013.

Besides, Mr. Sammie claimed that some police officers were using the exercise to extort money from the motorcyclists, but he did not substantiate his claim against the police. Speaking further, the LMTU chief scribe maintained that the Union has resolved to disregard the restriction on grounds that it is over-due and that it has not reduced crimes.

He said the Union will back any of its members who will violate the 10PM regulation. He among other things added that the agreement between the LNP and the Union is no longer legal since one of the parties-LMTU has withdrawn from the process. But the LNP sharply reacted to the LMTU's Secretary General defiant assertions.

A LNP release quoted Inspector General Chris Massaquoi as saying that the restriction remains enforced. He emphasized that the regulation remains effective; warning that anyone caught violating would be prosecuted.

Contrary to Mr. Mr. Sammie's claim, he stated that the 10PM regulation for 'pen pen' riders has dramatically reduced crimes especially armed robbery in Monrovia and other parts of the country. Commissioner Massaquoi further called on Liberians to be law-abiding.

He said citizens should do nothing to stall the peace and security of the country.

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