FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

11 March 2014

Liberia: Govt Plates Get Free Pass in Compulsory Insurance Drive?

Monrovia — As the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Transport and the Liberia National Police continue the impounding of commercial and Private Vehicles, FrontPageAfrica has discovered that most government vehicles have not been insured.

The government through the Ministry of Finance said it has allotted US$671,000 in the FY 2013/2014 budget and the ministry said this amount is set aside for 36 entities. The government has over 2,000 vehicles and most of these vehicles ply the streets without insurance stickers.

For two weeks now, motor vehicles owners have been subjected to stringent police inspection for vehicle registration and insurance documents. Those who have been unable to show proof of the vehicles being insured or registered have had their cars impounded by the police.

Transport Minister Tonola Varpilah during a news conference recently said the government was going to ensure that all vehicles comply with all public safety procedures laid down by law, which included the Third Party motor vehicle insurance scheme. He said the government would not compromise on the enforcement of the insurance scheme.

"Your vehicle will be arrested and impounded, you will not move from where the police will put it; so if you don't insure your vehicle we will arrest the vehicle and have it kept until you can insure it," said Minister Varpilah.

"Not only that, if your vehicle does not have a roadworthiness inspection sticker, that vehicle will be impounded. This scheme was first enacted into law in 1973 and it says that every owner of a vehicle should provide evidence that they have the financial security to respond to any damage done, as a result of an accident to a third party. That's the minimum requirement for insurance."

Reiterating the call Varpilah told FrontPageAfrica over the weekend that no vehicle is exempted from the ongoing compulsory motor insurance scheme adding that even his vehicle has been insured.

"Government vehicles, NGO vehicles, earth-moving equipment, are all supposed to abide by the law," said Minister Varpilah.

"The car that I'm riding is a government vehicle and it is insured. All the vehicles at the Ministry of Health, Agriculture, are all insured, the vehicles at the Ministry of Finance are being insured; so all the vehicles of government are supposed to be insured to comply with the law. The law doesn't exclude anybody."

He said to show that the government was serious about enforcing the scheme; Vice President Joseph N. Boakai's vehicle is also insured.

"If you recall during the launching of the whole thing, the Vice President's vehicle was one of the first vehicle that took the policy and the vice president has a government vehicle," he said.

Currently, most of the government owned vehicles continue to ply the streets with impunity without the cars being impounded as is the case with private and business vehicles, but the Transport Minister said, though there are some ministries and agencies yet to insure their vehicles, currently the government is in the process of regularizing its motor insurance troubles.

"It is not true for all the ministries; check there, there are some ministries that are budgeted for it; for those ministries that didn't budget for it, we are now concluding how the Ministry of Finance can through general claims to make sure that those vehicles get insured. "

Continued Varpilah: "What is happening is that the GSA is doing the pre-insurance action to document those vehicles that are not insured and they will have the mandate to first park them before even the police; so very soon you will see Mary Broh and her team in the streets of Monrovia making sure that all government vehicles comply. The ministry of finance will now look at how to make the money available to those ministries that didn't budget for it to have it properly done."

Even the Vice President during the launch of the scheme issued a stern warning to the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Ministry of Transport (MOT) to leave no stone unturned in enforcing the Compulsory Motor Vehicle Third Party Liability Insurance.

"I would like to start by underscoring the word compulsory; we hope that this will be the underlining word and that goes to our police and the Ministry of Transport to ensure that this is going to be compulsory," he said at the launch of the scheme at the Bella Cassa Hotel in Sinkor.

With many government owned vehicles not insured and still plying the streets with impunity, while private and business vehicles are being impounded daily, the question remains, is the government above the law?

Currently the Government has registered 30,832 motor vehicles nationwide, issued 12,807 driver's licenses, 263 eligible certificates and generated US$ 4,956,344.000 million.

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