Motorcyclists Versus Police in Liberia

‘Pen-Pen’ in Monrovia Turns Bloody As Police, Motorcyclists Exchange Fist-fights – Nat Nyuan-Bayjay
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pen-Pen Riders await passengers at the Clara Town Intersection-a densely populated community of Monrovia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M

otorcyclists, locally referred to as (pen-pen) constitute the highest portion of transport in Monrovia and other counties as they are also the fastest movers, dodging traffic congestions and getting people to work and other places on time but they are recorded for highest numbers of fatal accidents in Monrovia.

 

Wounded people from motorcycle ridding are taken to hospitals on a daily basis and the Liberian government sensing the danger pose by the numerous accidents banned the riding of motorcycle on the main streets of Monrovia but the ban has turned out to be a fierce warfare between motorcyclists and the Liberian National police. 

 

Traffic Police in Monrovia can hardly contain the large number of motorcycles plying the main streets of Monrovia as in many instances the motorcyclists challenge the police and engage them in physical fight in an effort to prevent the arrest of their cycles.

 

In recent time, the happenings between the police and motorcyclists is turning bloody with police officers manhandling motorcyclists while on the other hand, some motorcyclists force themselves pass police officers, sometimes dragging them to the floor.

 

The usual daily tussle witnessed between police and commercial motorbike operators locally referred to as ‘pen-pen’ riders turned bloody at the weekend in the commercial community of Vai Town when the Deputy Chief of Traffic for Administration at the Liberian National Police (LNP) was mercilessly dragged by one of Monrovia’s numerous pehn-pehn riders after he was ordered to stop by the police commander, leaving him heavily bruised.

 

Police officers manhandle a pen-pen driver

 

 

John M. Saar, Deputy to the Chief of Traffic explained that the pen-pen driver was riding on the opposite lane that joins the Gabriel Tucker Bridge (or New Bridge as is popularly called) towards Central Monrovia when he should instead be riding on the right lane.  

 

According to Deputy Chief Saar, the pen-pen driver only identified as Varney Momoh was riding under unsafe conditions such as riding without helmets for him and his passenger, wearing a pair of shower slippers as well as two crates of soft-drinks positioned between him and his passenger in addition to riding on the wrong lane.

 

While driving towards Vai Town as he left the Bridge, the Police officer explained that he noticed this rider coming directly towards the moving traffic which prompted him to have the motorcyclist stopped as he disembarked from his vehicle.

 

“As soon as the passenger disembarked from the bike, he began to push me from the bike as I had my hands on the carriage of the bike. He accelerated while I persistently held onto the back. Before I could know it, I was dragged on that hard coal-tar with my hands still on the bike”, the Deputy Chief explained told FrontPageAfrica.  

 

“I thought that I had everything under control. But to my utmost surprise the boy decided to accelerate which left my hands like this”, he continued and displayed his wounded elbows.

 

He further said that had the car driver on his right not stopped, he was definitely going to be crushed.

 

According to an eye-witness account confirmed by Commander Saar, Varney (the motorcyclist) immediately ran into the Ma-Juah Market after the motorcycle being tussled over fell.

But he was caught by members of the public who ran after him as the incident had already attracted the attention of dozens—if not hundred—of people while he jumped between one market stall to another in an attempt to escape the consequences associated with such traffic violation and the manner in which he manhandled the police traffic commander.

 Passers-by who witnessed the incident narrated to FrontPageAfrica few minutes after incident that it was such a pitiful scene to witness.

 

“I say my friend, you could see that poor man struggling under that motorbike but luckily for him the motorbike fell. Otherwise, the stubbornness of that police commander could have killed him because the motor bike boy too was stubborn and he didn’t want to stop the motorbike,” narrated Cynthia Wah who sells in the Ma-Juah Market, the place opposite which the incident occurred.

 

The scuffle left the police commander’s both elbows burnt and parts of his feet from the hot absorb-pipe of the beating engine.

 

Attempts by this FrontPageAfrica to reach the cyclist involved yielded no result as he was being transferred to a police detention cell upon the arrival of our reporter pending courting procedure.

 

Meanwhile, he has been sent to court and formally charged with criminal intent to commit murder.

 

There have always been scuffles of this kind between commercial motorcyclists and police officers of the Liberia National Police on a regular basis in Monrovia and its environs.

 

Riding Pen-pen in Monrovia, the fastest means of transport.

 

 

This followed pronouncement by the Liberian Government via the Ministry of Transport then headed by its former minister Jackson Doe several months ago banding all commercial motorcycles from plying the major streets of Central Monrovia.  The police, being the law enforcers of the land, have been tasked with this responsibility which has been proving to be too hectic for them in their quest to execute this order.

 

As a matter of fact, they are either seen arresting or fighting over motorcycles while these ‘pen-pen’ riders remain very adamant in their own bid to survive by means of what has now become a major means of transport for the public who in turn had already adjusted well to this form of transport before the coming into existence of this order. Various police depots in Central Monrovia and parts adjacent as well as the Headquarters of the Liberia National Police are always jam-parked with impounded ‘pen-pens’.

 

But the issue of an officer being dragged as he attempted to arrest a violating ‘pen-pen’ rider has mixed-views or reactions from the public. Most members of the public interviewed said that this is “50-50” incident because police officers are most often seen carrying out police brutality on these ‘pen-pen’ riders in the name of enforcing traffic laws.

 

Majority of them even told our reporter that this scenario was the first of its kind that ever witnessed by them as they have in most cases witnessed the reverse—meaning one in which police officers are always either dragging or flogging the ‘pen-pen’ riders to the extent of injuring them. According to observers, this should rather serve as a deterrent to those officers who find pleasure in carrying out police brutality while ensuring that motorists abide by traffic rules and regulations.   

 

A typical incidence proving that members of the LNP do carry out such acts of brutality happened in the presence of one of FrontPageAfrica reporters who had hired a motorcyclist to take him to an assignment in the Sinkor area on Tuesday, April 7, 2009  when two police officers jostled one ‘pen-pen’ rider.

 

According to the reporter the incident occurred due to the refusal of the motorcyclist to be arrested, deciding to make a u-turn to the displeasure of one of the police officers who later ceased the key of the motorbike while it was in motion with the FPA reporter still seated on it.

 

The motorcyclist who tried finding an escape route was later over powered when the other officer joined in the scuffle.

 

This incident again witnessed so much police brutality in which the police officers’ relentlessly strive to get the motorcyclist’s key led to his head being hit hard against the door of the traffic Patrol car that had been called to take him away after they succeeded in having him handcuffed.

continue in his fight for the key while when they finally succeeded in getting the kid, they began to beat on pen-pen driver and later one of them ordered that they handcuff him but he resisted it initially, but they succeeded in getting it on his left hand.

 

Due to the pen-pen driver’s resistance, the two police officers were seen “kicking and slapping” him. They later got him to the ground with force in order to put the hand cuff on both hands. When this was done, a police patrol car came by for the operator to be transported to an unknown destination. Before their departure, the motor bike rider was forcibly put into the patrol car with his head knocked against the entrance of the car.

 

 

Deputy Chief of Traffic displayed wounded elbows after being dragged by a 'pen-pen' rider

Deputy Chief of Traffic displayed wounded elbows after being dragged by a 'pen-pen' rider

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