Monrovia — Platform for Dialogue & Peace (P4DP) has pre-launched its "Counter-Stigma Sticker Campaign" at its headquarters in Sinkor, gathering ordinary motorcyclists and representatives from their umbrella groups such as Federation of Motorcycle and Tricycle Union of Liberia (FOMTUL) and Parking Lot Agents (monitors) to discuss the challenges the "Pen-pen" are faced with in the course of their daily hustle in the traffic.
P4DP has observed over the years that some members of the public constantly stigmatize the bike riders, who the organization see classifies as "at risk" youth that need to be assisted by all in several ways to keep the economy and peace afloat in a fragile democracy.
The Liberian research, peacebuilding, and development group is working with the St. Andrews University based in the United Kingdom to roll out the project named "Monitoring from War to Peace; Supporting Social Reintegration of Liberia's Conflict-Affected Youth through Nationwide Counter-Stigma Efforts".
The group's Executive Director James Shilue says commercial bike riding is a major source of income for an estimated 175, 000 youth in Liberia (notably young men), but the riders are said to usually experience stigmatization by private and commercial drivers and passengers and hospital nurses who often use disparage comments against the bikers for despise - often on claims they ride roughly.
This puts the lives of the riders at risk and sometimes leads to violence in which lives are lost, vehicles set ablaze, and properties damaged.
To solidify the Counter-Stigma Sticker Campaign, P4DP printed thousands of bumper stickers it gave out to participants will now distribute the materials to others at their bases.
Inscriptions on some of the stickers read: "I ride to survive"; I am a nation-builder, not a destroyer"; "I'm earning living the cool way"; and "carrying without limits; we go where cars don't."
P4DP says it is imparting conflict resolution skills into vulnerable groups, and rapidly responding to new emergencies threatening Liberia's peace through the delivery and subsequent evaluation of police-cyclist dialogues and campaign to educate cyclists about Covid-19 prevention.
Rider Trokon Gray, vice president of the Supreme Motorcycle Transport Union, on behalf of his colleagues, thanked the NGO for "such a great program for us," calling the activity the "beginning of the end of cyclists only being recognized in times of elections."
Glay continued: "We are happy to be sitting at this roundtable discussing things that affect us and how we can fix it together. We are in a country where Pen-pen riders are only called upon by politicians during elections. But that is now changing."