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“Poor And Inconsiderate Communication”-Citizens Decry Security Protocols For Inauguration

By Bill W. Cooper 

Several Citizens are expressing frustration and concern over what they perceive as inadequately communicated security measures surrounding the protocols in the upcoming inauguration of President-elect and Vice president-elect, Joseph Boakai and Jeremiah Koung. 

The citizens, predominantly motorcyclists and kehkeh riders, feel that the information regarding these safety precautions have been poorly and untimely executed, causing confusion between them and State security.

Boakai and Koung are both expected to be sworn in as Liberia’s President and Vice president respectively, on Monday, January 22, 2024, following an intense electoral process in October of 2023.

In preparation for the incoming inauguration, the Joint Security announced to the general public, safety protocols for the pending inauguration, which began yesterday, January 18, 2024, in Monrovia and parts adjacent.

The police, in its release, said operators of vehicles, motorbikes, and kehkehs are urged to strictly adhere to these measures, that beginning Thursday, January 18, 2024, no motorbike(s), kehkeh(s), or heavy-duty trucks will be allowed to ply the Roberts International Airport Road to ELWA junction.

That Tubman Boulevard remains a No-Go Zone to motorbikes and kehkehs during this operation; heavy duty trucks wishing to come to Monrovia from the route of the Roberts International Airport will be allowed to do so through the 15th Gate, Firestone Road, during this operation.

Others are that motorbikes and kehkehs from Gardnersville and Duala will be detoured through Waterside and will return through the same route during this operation, and that on Monday, January 22, 2024, vehicular traffic from ELWA to Monrovia will be diverted to Jallah Town, Sinkor, by assigned officers.

But in the wake of these measures, it appears that the apparent lack of effective communication from the relevant agencies has resulted in widespread disapproval and criticism from the public, witnessing serious confrontation between some Liberians and security personnel. 

According to some Liberians spoken to, their primary issue on measures is the timing and nature of the communication, which was released a day or two before the enforcement of the measures. 

They frowned on the fact that crucial details regarding public safety protocols, road closures, and potential disruptions to daily activities were not adequately conveyed in a timely manner, something they stressed is affecting their movement from one place to another. 

Prince Johnson, a kehkeh rider, said, “I am really disappointed in our security apparatus because of their lack of clarity in their messaging. You cannot give such serious information and not even alert the public through various radio stations.”

“For me, I think this was a disservice and an affront to us as citizens who have to go out every day to hustle. Again, I will adhere to the protocols because of my own safety, but the security never did the public justice,” he lamented. 

Also, a taxi driver, who was seen in a heated argument with a police officer on grounds that he violated the measures, decried, “This is complete nonsense and this is one of the many reasons why this government was voted out.”

According to John Wessely, the action from the government through the joint Security could have caused more problems instead of ensuring the safety and well-being of the citizens, as a result of their ineffective communication strategy. 

He added, “For me, I will run my vehicle, and if any officer just dares touch me, my problem with leave on his head. How do they expect me to get money for my children? At least if they had said this earlier, some of us were going to prepare for it, but at this point, I am unable.”

Meanwhile, in the midst of the claims and counterclaims, the effective communication of security measures is not only a practical necessity but also a vital demonstration of leadership and a commitment to fostering trust and confidence. 

As the country prepares for this historic event, it is paramount that the Joint Security works with all stakeholders to ensure the safety and well-being of every citizen across Liberia. 

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