By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
Every time there is a situation or event whether positive or negative, certain words of phrases are used to describe or make reference to that prevailing situation. In Liberia when one speaks of “cash violence” during electoral process, it simply refers to the use of finances by one party to win others from other parties or camps over. Similarly the attitude and behavior of certain groups of people have made such groups to be characterized in certain ways or are viewed in an unpleasant manner because of the way and manner in which they conduct themselves.
Another example in Liberia now is the movie named, “killer Beam,” which depicts lawlessness, as the actor does anything he wishes, with complete disregard to established rules and procedures. Even during the Liberian civil war, there was a particular checkpoint named, “God Bless You Checkpoint,” which depicted death and mayhem, meaning it was risky to venture through such checkpoint. One of the phrases associated with the late Charles Julu foiled coup several years ago, is ‘let me play my cassette,” meaning allow me to give reasons or explain myself for why I decided on such a course of action. In contemporary Liberia, a new phrase known as “4G” has now been coined to show how some individuals in authority act with rapidity and swiftness in taking certain action or decision for selfish reasons or personal gains.
I am making reference to words or phrases that are given special meaning and connotations because of how people feel about a particular situation. Today in Liberia, the word, “Motorcyclists,” does not only mean a rider. It is becoming to mean “disregard’, recklessness or disrespect”, as well as lawlessness because of the way and manner in which some of its it is also considered as a sector of the transportation system, some of those involved in this transport sector go about conducting themselves as they ply some parts of the city and other terrains. As a result, some citizens vowed not to ride motorcycle.
It is not a gainsaying that what prompted the uncalled-for recent violence in the Redlight area came about as a result of attempt by police to arrest a motorcyclist for allegedly breaking the rule. That attempt of law enforcement resulted to the death of the motorcyclist, thus causing the violence that resulted in the burning of a police station, destruction and looting of properties. Because the matter is being investigated at the highest level and because it is also in court, I would desist from making comments further on the issue. Howbeit my interest is the issue of LAW ENFORCEMENT.
If the term “motorcyclists” denote or depict disregard and disrespect for traffic regulations, then, there are many “motorcyclists” in government in that some of those who drive government’s vehicles are worst off than the commercial motorcyclists. They are seen during morning hours while others are abiding my traffic regulations, bypassing the rules. As a result, they usually create a third lane that interferes with incoming vehicles. This usually leads to traffic congestion.
This situation always causes an embarrassment to traffic police officers who for fear of ‘getting into trouble’ with some officials of government, some of whom have contempt power and so these police officers reluctantly allow these law-breaking officials to keep breaking traffic regulations. In some instances, this can in no way be blamed on the drivers, as the officials are in no position to ensure proper compliance and call the driver’s attention if he is flouting the traffic rules.
What is more nauseating is that as these officials refuse to abide by the rules, others including taxi cabs and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) usually join the fray by driving behind these law-breakers, with the view that if those should set or live by example fail to do so, then, it is right to also break the laws. This is where the traffic officers are afraid to enforce the laws.
Whenever I drive from Paynesville, especially during the morning hours and see these government vehicles behaving in such manner I always wondered as to whether there is something in government that tells these officials not to be law-abiding. Some of these were the very people few years ago, outside government, and drove their private vehicles, with due respect to the rules. Conversely, now that they are in government, they have completely changed, becoming law unto themselves. WHY SO?
I should not be misconstrued that there are not exceptions to the rules. NO, I would be in a fool’s paradise to think so. There are always “exceptions to the rule,” and this is even stated in the traffic regulations, especially regarding emergency and security reasons. But what is obtaining is just mere showy of power and disregard for simple traffic regulations. Something MUST be done about this as every Tom, Dick and Harris cause unnecessary traffic jam or congestion, especially during the morning hours.
Until these motorcyclists realize that they are not above the law, as laws are not discriminatory, the city would continue to experience traffic jam or congestion. I Rest My Case.