The commercial motorbike industry is relatively new in Liberia, with a large number of commercial motorcyclists being ex-combatants during the Liberian civil war. Coming from a background of violence and conflict has led to an industry often quick to respond to conflict with aggression and violence and has resulted in many Liberians perceiving the motorbike riders as troublemakers who are quick to take the laws into their own hands. Because of the long-term psychosocial damage done to Liberian youth during the civil war, the training extends beyond road safety to include psychological counseling, basic governance education, HIV/AIDS awareness, conflict resolution skills and civic responsibility education and development.
It is intended that the skills taught will reintegrate the youth into Liberian society by enabling them to contribute meaningfully to the community through responsible behaviours and adhering to the rule of law.
The Liberian YMCA’s research and experience indicates that commercial motorbike riders come into conflict with the law primarily through their ignorance of traffic rules and often violence has resulted when the bikers misunderstood police intervention and instead felt they were being wrongly persecuted. The training has helped beneficiaries to become more aware of traffic regulations and to respond more amicably during traffic violations and police intervention. In this regard, police participation in the programme has been vital and has helped to create an atmosphere of cooperation and order.
The training has been well received by the project beneficiaries, with many affirming the need for improved training in the region.
During one of the recent trainings, a motorbiker remarked that “this kind of intervention by the Liberia YMCA and partners is very good. We want the Liberia YMCA to visit the field and also continue with this training, as this would help us.”
Another participant in Gbarnga of the Bong County said: “This is good for us, because many of us do not know traffic signs and other things pertaining to road safety.” “This will help some of us to avoid accidents,” a participant concluded.
On completion of their training, participants received two helmets, a vest and gloves and were rewarded with their licenses.
The next round of training is schedule to take place in south eastern Liberia, Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County. 200 commercial motorcyclists will undergo training from October 11-16, 2010 in partnership with the German Technical Cooperation.
By: Emmanuel King, Information Officer, Liberia YMCA