Police Spokesperson Retracts Statement on Subcompact Vehicles

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MONROVIA, Montserrado – Sam Collins, spokesperson for the Liberia National Police, has clarified an earlier statement he made in a Bush Chicken article suggesting that the police were considering imposing restrictions on subcompact vehicles in Monrovia.

Collins had said the vehicles, which have been appearing on the city’s streets in increasing numbers, pose a risk to passengers and operators, especially when driven alongside larger vehicles. He said there were plans by the police to restrict the vehicles from certain routes in Monrovia.

Collins clarified that the police’s Division of Public Safety has not made a decision in determining what risks the vehicles pose and had no existing plans to restrict their use.

“The comment about these subcompact vehicles to The Bush Chicken was an oversight,” he said. “These subcompact vehicles are free to ply any route in the city center and other highways in the country.”

According to him, the vehicles, the vast majority of which are Bajaj Qute, are safe and comfortable to ride.

The earlier comments by Collins drew concerns from importers, although none were willing to speak on the record.

An officer within the Division of Public Safety who spoke on the basis of anonymity said since March 2016, when the vehicles were brought in, there have been no accidents reported involving them.

Collins, however, did say the recent restrictions imposed on tricycles, popularly known as ‘kehkeh,’ still remain. He reinforced an earlier point that restricting the tricycles in Central Monrovia is meant to reduce traffic congestion.

“These tricycles drivers are not allowed to park on Carey Street but can drive through and drop off passengers,” he said.

Collins also said tricycles are advised not to ply the various highways in the country.

Tricycles operating on Carey Street. Photo: Zeze Ballah

Tricycles operating on Carey Street. Photo: Zeze Ballah

He mentioned that in Central Monrovia, the new terminal for tricycles, referred to as a ‘parking lot,’ is at the corner of Benson and Mechlin streets. But the union that represents tricycle operators and owners disagrees with Collins’ statement.

Kollie Z. Koiyan, president general of the Liberia Tricycle and Motorcycle Association, said since his members were banned from using the space behind the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning on Carey Street as a terminal, they have not been provided another location by the police.

“The Liberia Tricycle and Motorcycle Association’s members are currently using the corner of Benson and Newport Streets as their temporary parking lot,” Koiyan said.

The terminal assigned to the Liberia Motor Transport Union at the corner of Benson and Mechlin streets. Photo: Zeze Ballah

The terminal assigned to the Liberia Motor Transport Union at the corner of Benson and Mechlin streets. Photo: Zeze Ballah

A visit to the Benson and Mechlin intersection revealed that only members of the Liberia Motor Transport Union, which represents commercial motorcyclists, were present. Tricycles established their temporary terminal at the intersection of Carey and Newport Streets.

During evening hours, the temporary terminal was crowded by marketers, often confusing riders over where exactly to board a tricycle.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. He is also an Internews Health Journalism Fellow.

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