FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

Liberia: Police Boss Warns Motorcyclists Against Mass Protest Planned By Pehn-Phen Riders

Motorcycles have been the fastest means of transportation for ordinary Liberians to commute from one destination to another since the country returned to peace.

In early November, motorcycles were banned by the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Transport from plying the streets of Monrovia.

Authority of the Liberia National Police say the intent of the restriction is to prevent the high accident rate caused by motorcycles as well as curb criminal activities at night as most criminals were in the habit of using motorcycles to commit crimes.

Just closed to the festive seasons while the restriction is still in force with no sign of been lifted by the authority of the LNP, the Secretary of the Liberia Motorcycles Transport Union (LMTU) Robert Sammie has called on motorcyclists in the country to hold a peaceful protest by December 20, 2013 in front of the Foreign Ministry where the Office of the President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is currently located.

Samie stated that the mass protest is to be staged to draw the attention of the Liberian leader President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the continuous harassment and intimidation meted out against motorcycles by police officers and that such act is causing embarrassment and hardship for motorcyclists.

The LMTU Secretary General has also accused LNP officers of impounding commercial motorbikes including the ones plying on feeder roads and selling them without the consent of the owners.

But leaders of the affiliate group of the Liberia Motorcycles Transport Union called Union of Liberia Motorcyclists have condemned Samie's statement saying that it is in no way in support of the LMTU Secretary General statement as it was done unilaterally.

"The LMTU is a peaceful and law-abiding organization that does not engage itself with violence action" said Amos Nyumah when he and other members met with the police boss Chris Massaquoi Thursday at the LNP Headquaters where they distanced themselves from the proposed protest and re-affirmed their organization's commitment in working with the LNP.

Responding, Police Director Chris Massaquoi told the gathering that the statement coming from the LMTU Secretary General Robert Sammie was unfortunate as the police will not sit and watch anyone violate the law and called on the would-be protesters to desist from their plan.

"We have gathered information that there are people out there that want to incite the motorcyclists to protest and warned those supporting the action to stop immediately as anyone who will be caught will be arrested and if found to be liable be sent to court for prosecution", says Director Massaquoi.

On the issue of police selling confiscated bikes, the police chief indicated that the story is untrue and in his right mind no police officer could do that and called on the media to verify these reports before publication.

He said that police has in its possession record of every bike arrested and parked at every depots which was shown to reporters, however at the LNP headquarter alone there were 82 motor bikes arrested which police say were arrested in restricted areas.

Police Boss Massaquoi stated that the problem with the motorcyclists is that they don't want to pay their fines to government revenues when their bikes are arrested but assured that any motorcyclist who pay his fine will be given his bike.

During the meeting the police chief read his Christmas day message and called on all Liberians and foreigners along the border that as the festive seasons approached the LNP stands ready to ensure that all will be done to provide maximum protection, noting that the public should go by their normal duty without fear.

According to the police chief in a bid to enhance police /community relations, the LNP will within one week commence a more robust exercise in this direction and called on community dwellers in Monrovia to assist the police in this endeavor.

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