KAKATA, Margibi – Kakata’s mayor, Emmanuel Goll, and scores of commercial drivers were in a war of words over the weekend when the city began enforcing its new mandate to prevent commercial drivers from loading and offloading passengers on its main street.
The move was done in a bid to decongest the street, given that throngs of passengers boarding commercial vehicles often clog Kakata’s main street, which forms a part of Suakoko Highway that directly connects Monrovia and Gbarnga .
The drivers became agitated when they discovered on Saturday morning that over 40 vehicles in the parking lane had their tires flattened. The mayor confirmed that the city had done this as a warning sign to vehicle operators.
In response, the drivers blocked the main street to claim the attention of county authorities.
Goll had issued a notice mandating all commercial drivers running along the Suakoko Highway to relocate at Sackie Flomo’s Business Center, which is about 2 km from the city center.
The drivers contended that the proposed site was not appropriate because of the lack of shelter and a latrine, which they said would inconvenience drivers and passengers.
Sheik Toure, a resident of Kakata, said the city’s action of puncturing the tires of the vehicles overnight was improper. He suggested that the mayor should have persuaded the drivers to relocate, instead of resorting to such drastic measures.
Freeman Flomo, the spokesman of the aggrieved drivers, said the commercial drivers often park their cars on the street overnight for security because much of Kakata is dark and the private security guards who watch over the stores along the main street also provide security for their vehicles overnight.
“Let the city mayor tell us which section of the city ordinance says cars should not park on the sidewalk overnight,” Flomo added.
Another drivers representative, Musa Balla, who is the county coordinator of the Genuine Transport Union of Liberia, described the mayor’s actions as shocking because he said drivers and the mayor had earlier met to discuss a strategy for the drivers to peacefully leave the streets. Balla said he found Goll’s decision surprising, given that there was no defiant action from the drivers until then.
Meanwhile, Goll has said his order to puncture the tires of the vehicles is in compliance with the Kakata City Ordinance after a series of meetings aimed at getting the commercial drivers to relocate to a more spacious environment that can allow the free flow of traffic through the city’s streets.
“We had meetings with them in order for them to leave the street, to give the street a free pathway and our action today is a joint effort of the county authority and the joint security,” Goll noted.
He warned that his team would continue to carry out that action until the commercial drivers vacated the street.
Featured photo by Emmanuel Degleh