Commercial Drivers End Strike in Bong

GBARNGA, Bong – Commercial drivers in Bong have resumed normal traffic activities following Monday’s protest that saw drivers refusing to run traffic.

The drivers had placed several roadblocks at different points along the Suakoko Highway in the county to “ensure that other commercial drivers in the county lived up to the mandate not to run traffic.”

The drivers were motivated by a need to “claim the attention of President George Weah and the government” on the increment in fees for vehicle registration, compulsory insurance, and driver’s license, as well as alleged police harassment and extortion of money from drivers plying the road.

Their termination of the strike followed intervention by Bong’s local leadership, representatives of civil society and the police.

“We met the authorities in a roundtable discussion,” Philip Quennah, the head of the drivers, told The Bush Chicken. “They assured us that all our complaints are in place. On Sunday we are having a final meeting with them.”

Quennah said the local leadership of the county has promised to communicate the drivers’ concerns with the national government for redress.

During the drivers’ protest, this was a familiar scene on the Suakoko Highway. Photo: Moses Bailey.

Varney Brown, one of the spokespersons of the drivers, took to Radio Gbarnga to announce the end of the strike: “I am calling unto my drivers so that we can resume immediate traffic as I speak on this media. Let the drivers look up to us to work with the leadership to resolve this problem.”

During the meeting with government officials, the drivers apologized for failing to share their complaints with the leadership of the county before deciding to halt traffic and stage the roadblocks.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Liberia National Police, Moses Carter, has described the drivers’ action to set up roadblocks on the highway as “unfair and unacceptable.”

Appearing on Radio Gbarnga early morning on Thursday, Carter said, “If any motorist or driver thinks or has information of extortion from them by police, there are channels. There are procedures that they can take.”

He said if drivers have claims against police officers extorting money from them, those drivers should do formal communications, with facts, to the supervisors or the bosses of the officers in the county, instead of instituting roadblocks to disturb the smooth movement of other people.

“We should learn to approach issues in the way that is in the confines of the law,” Carter said.

Carter cautioned the public against blocking roads as a means of seeking redress. He drew attention to the Penal Code, which forbids the unlawful establishments of roadblocks that hinder the free movement of people.

He said the police would arrest would be violators of the law and ensure that those people are persecuted in accordance with the law.

The police’s spokesperson was in Gbarnga as part of a nation-wide consultation tour aimed at “decentralizing the communications department of the Liberia National Police.”

Featured photo by Moses Bailey

Moses Bailey

Moses started his journalism career in 2010 as a reporter at Radio Gbarnga. In 2011, the Press Union of Liberia recognized him as the Human Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2017, he was the Development Reporter of the Year. He is also an Internews Health Journalism Fellow. Moses is also the regional coordinator for NAYMOTE-Liberia, an organization working with youth to promote democratic governance.

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