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Tempering Justice with Mercy: Liberia National Police Rescinds Regulation on Motorcyclists & Tricyclists

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By Julius T. Jaesen, II.

In a surprising turn of events, the Liberia National Police has reversed its decision to ban motorcyclists and tricyclists from plying main streets. The initial announcement, which sparked widespread debate and concern among commuters, motorcycle and tricycle operators alike, has been met with relief following the recent rescission.

The controversy began when the Police unveiled plans to enforce regulations aimed at restricting motorcyclists’ and tricyclists’ access to main streets, citing safety concerns and traffic congestion as primary reasons for the proposed ban. However, since the pronouncement, the proposed regulation had faced significant criticism from motorcyclists, tricyclists, and leaders of political parties, including the CDC that threatened to resist the LNP’s decision.

Critics argued that the ban on motorcyclists and tricyclists accessing main roads disproportionately affected those who rely on motorcycles and tricycles as their primary means of transportation, especially in a country where public transportation infrastructure is often inadequate. On the other hand, several Liberians said the ban on motorcyclists and tricyclists, if enforced, will cause disruptions of the livelihoods of thousands of citizens who rely on motorcycles and tricycles for their daily bread.

The decision to rescind the regulation comes after an intervention made by Vice President, H.E. Jeremiah Koung, through dialogue between the LNP and representatives from the motorcycle and tricycle union.

“We recognise the importance of maintaining law and order on our roads, but we also understand the challenges faced by our citizens, especially those who depend on motorcycles and tricycles for their livelihoods,” security expert Joseph Tamba stated in a press release.

The move has been welcomed by motorcycle and tricycle operators who have expressed relief that they would no longer have to navigate through back alleys and side streets to avoid police checkpoints.

“I’m grateful to the authorities for listening to our concerns and reconsidering this regulation,” said John Kanneh, a motorcyclist who operates in downtown Monrovia. “For many of us, this is our only source of income, and being able to use main roads makes our work much easier and safer.”

Civil society groups have also applauded the decision, hailing it as a demonstration of the government’s willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue and adapt policies to better serve the interests of its citizens.

“This decision shows that the government is responsive to the needs of the people and willing to correct course when necessary,” said Sarah Johnson, a spokesperson for the Liberia Civil Society Organisations. “We hope that this spirit of collaboration and empathy will continue to guide policymaking in Liberia.”

Meanwhile, a Liberian academic, James Togba remarked, “While it is crucial to uphold regulations and maintain order, it is equally vital to consider the human impact and exercise discretion when enforcing policies that affect the lives of ordinary citizens.”

While the rescinding of the regulation represents a significant victory for motorcyclists, tricyclists and their advocates, the LNP has emphasised that it will continue to enforce traffic laws to ensure the safety of all road users. Police Inspector General Oliver Wendell Gregory urged motorcyclists and tricyclists to adhere to traffic regulations by wearing protective gear and cooperating with law enforcement officers to maintain order on the roads.

“As we move forward, let us remember that the ultimate goal is to ensure safety for all road users and to create a safe and efficient transportation for all Liberians. By working together, we can achieve that goal”, IG Coleman concluded.

He considers the move to reconsider their no-go zone for motorcyclists and tricyclists as tempering justice with mercy.

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