Commercial motorbikes riders, law enforcement and the politics of Sierra Leone


May 20, 2016

Commercial motorbike riders have created a niche for themselves in the local transport sector, to the extent that they have become indispensible to the Sierra Leonean public.

Members of the public use commercial motorbikes as their quickest means of transportation to their respective destinations, in Freetown and rural communities.

In the same vein, thousands of youths across the country regard commercial bike riding as the easiest means to create self-employment  for themselves, rather than engage in some kind of societal vices, to eke out a living.

But they are regularly criticised by law enforcement officers, politicians and members of the public alike, for their road usage or lack of compliance with road regulations.

The general societal perception about commercial bike riders is that they are lawless as the average rider would rather flout traffic rules and regulations than abide by them. Though a reliable statistics is hard to come by, consensus among members of the public is that majority of road accidents across the country are caused by commercial motorbike riders.

While we at Concord Times hold a similar view that commercial bike riders are lawless, we differ a bit in apportioning blame for the sad state of affairs, as we are of the view that such is only symptomatic of a general problem with law enforcement in this country.

We believe that lawlessness among commercial motorbike riders is largely caused by a general societal issue of law and order, which is exacerbated by selective justice by the police in handling the riders.

When the Central Business District (CBD) was declared a no go area for commercial bike riders, the Sierra Leone Police applied selective justice in implementing the policy.

It is public knowledge that some members of the Sierra Leone Police own and ride commercial motor bikes, which are allowed to ply the CBD with a reckless abandon, while others were barred from doing so.

We at Concord Times are of the view that selective justice by law enforcement officers create more problems than solutions in handling lawlessness among commercial motor bike riders.

Justice they say is a double edge sword and that the cooking pot for the goose should be the cooking pot for the gander as well.

We believe that no one, including members of the Sierra Leone Police, should be above the law – all should incur equal penalties before the law.

We again believe that the politics of Sierra Leone has contributed immensely to nurture and foster lawlessness among commercial bike riders in the country.

We are of the view that law enforcement in Sierra Leone has been reduced to the level of a joke. People who are supposed to obey law and order have turn out to abuse and divert the course of public policies due to the kind of politics we practice in this country.

When President Ernest Koroma was running for a second term of office in 2012, he used commercial bikes riders as one of his main hubs in winning the election. As a result, some unscrupulous riders think it is payback time and that they are above the law.

We believe that Sierra Leone needs the political will and commitment to ensure that law and order is maintained.

We hope that the newly appointed Minister of Internal Affairs, Retired Major Paolo Conteh, can achieve what his predecessors failed to achieve: restoring sanity in society, including the streets.

We urged that there should be no kind of selective Justice in handling commercial motor bike riders and that this latest campaign will be sustained until the riders inculcate the virtues of learning to respect law and order.