On the eve of a reported planned showdown with government security forces, officials of the Liberia Motorcycle Transport Union (LMTU), one of the bodies responsible to regulate and monitor the movement of commercial motorcycles, have stressed the need for a comprehensive insurance liability for motorcyclists.
LMTU Vice President for Administration, Augustine Kanneh told this paper Monday that a third party comprehensive insurance liability is needed for both motorcyclists and passengers.
He wants focus placed on Monrovia where he claimed motorcyclists are vulnerable to the road and the machines that they ride.
"Given the level of vulnerability of the commercial motorcyclists especially in Monrovia, motorcyclists need to be covered by insurance policy, something that requires the collective input of all stakeholders in the sector," he said.
He said commercial riders are also exposed to risk so it will be befitting that the insurance policy which is currently being pieced together takes into consideration a comprehensive approach to cover everyone on board the machine.
Saying that his organization is caught between the sissors, Kanneh expressed disappointment over the failure of the organizers of stakeholders conference on third party insurance liability to invite the LMTU to meaningfully contribute to the process.
"We are wearing the shoes and we know how it pinches, so for them to converge to discuss on the behalf of the motorcyclists is worrying. It is prudent that the leadership of the union be invited to make input", Kanneh said.
According to him, the policy should not take into consideration third party alone as was proffered recently by the Ministry of Transport and officials of the Association of Insurers during a discussion held at a local hotel in Sinkor.
At the same time, the LMTU administrator has frowned on motorcyclists, who out of emotions, are in the habit of throwing invectives at motorists in the wake of wrongs meted against them by commercial drivers and vice versa.
Such attitudes, Mr. Kanneh shows that most motorcyclists are not civil, and urged them to put themselves in the shoes of others that they normally offend.
On other issues, the LMTU VPA also shifted blames on police officers as also being responsible for some of the wrong things.
Though too many commercial motorcycles plying the various streets and community roads constantly violate safety rules, drivers of heavy duty machines are in the constant habit of exhibiting unruly behavior especially when rules and regulations governing road safety are violated.
"As a result of this, we call on the government including the Liberia National Police and the Ministry of Transport to work along with them in providing the opportunity for training as to road use," he said.
"When these operators are arrested, they called their "bosses" and soon afterwards we are instructed to release them because someone interest is involved. Sometimes the violators tell us that best place to take them is at the Police station because the motorcycle owners are there to have them released."
"While it is true that that it has less enforcement powers, some police officers are bent on buying motorcycles that are given to relatives for commercial purpose of which they used as a vanguard to violate though commercial motorcyclists do not normally adhere to traffic regulations."
Mr. Kanneh used the occasion to call on the government, line agencies and ministries including development partners to provide training opportunities, education and should ensure the enforcement of law and order.
He warned commercial motorcyclists to avoid using the center lane overtake vehicles but should remain in the cue and observe road safety.
There are about seven motorcyclist unions in the country. And, according to the LMTU executive, putting everyone under a single established structure is a challenge facing them.
The different unions include the Liberia Motorcycle Union (LMTU), the Union of Safe Motorcycle Operators of Liberia (USMOL), the United Motorbike Transport Union of Liberia (UMTUL, the Liberia Tricycle and Motorcycle Association (LIMCA) and the Liberia Prompt Service Union (LPSU) all of which have been monitoring and regulating the sector in their own way.