Barely a week ago, the authoritative 'Informer' newspaper carried an editorial in which it differs with the Police for the imposition of the of restrictions on 'pem-pem' bike riders beginning 10:00pm to 6:00 am GMT in the morning, due to concerns raised by a cross-section of citizens and the Police. According to the Police, 75% of criminal activities that occur at night across the country including armed robbery are being done or facilitated by bike riders.
Indeed there is no doubt that armed robbery has been on a steady increase in the country especially in the month of November, 2012 and despite the effectiveness of the propaganda and public relations wing of the Police, even the Police boss Chris Massaquoi has attested to the increase in armed robbery, although he cited the lack of logistics to enable the Police the fight armed criminals with sophisticated weapons such as the AK-47. Police sources indicate that there are several instances to show that bike riders are either facilitating armed robbers or themselves being caught red-handed in armed robbery activities.
Nonetheless, there are many who consider that one of the issues that may trigger off economic and social disequilibrium throughout the country is putting restrictions on the flow of transport at night. It will cause some panic if for example travelers from abroad or within the country are obliged to stay indoor after 10:00pm for failing to find a –pem-pem bike riders or vehicles to take them to their various destinations. The order is counter-productive to the smooth running of commercial banks in the country where public service workers have been enchasing their salary checks.
Liberia needs socio-economic development and growth. In this regards there is a need to grant freedom of movement to everyone in the country including potential tourists. It is very unfortunate that when workers in both the public and private sectors of the economy are supposed to be enjoying the Christmas and the New Year season with their families in the night clubs, restaurants and other places of entertainment the 10:00pm ban on bike riders is being enforced by the Police in the country.
What many journalists can still recall the Police boss emphasizing during a press conference at the Ministry of Information was that there are certain criminal and disgruntled elements within the Police that are suspects in armed robbery activities in the country. The impression conveyed by many thus is that as far as armed robbery is concerned, some disgruntled police officers that were retired and hoping to be re-enlisted have hidden hands, not only bike riders in the country.
Surely, the important contributions that bike riders are making to the socio-economic development of this country cannot be overlooked. In remote rural areas and villages where there are no ambulances, it is usually bike riders that can carry the sick and pregnant women to hospitals and clinic areas outside Monrovia. Bike riders are handicapped by the precarious security situation in the country as crime in any part of Liberia is a crime all around the country.
This is why we are urging the Liberian government and other interested stakeholders to ensure that Police make maximum use of their existing facilities to combat armed robbery.
In other words there is a need to reactivate police measures to combat armed robbery and other estimated population. Community policing means forging partnership with the community to fight crime. There is a need for the Police to team up with night police personnel, pem-pem riders, night newspaper workers among others instead of going abroad, rather than purchasing new dresses. We wish the Informer newspaper staff a Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year!