Fact CheckLiberia

Exaggerated! Liberia does not have over 230,000 registered motorcyclists and tricyclists

Claim: The President of the Federation of Motorcyclist and Tricyclist Unions (FOMTUL) of Liberia claims that “over 230,000 registered motorcyclists and tricycle operators are in Liberia.”

Exaggerated! Liberia does not have over 230,000 registered motorcyclists and tricyclists

Verdict: Exaggerated! The Ministry of Transport’s latest data shows 14,704 registered motorcyclists and tricycle operators in Liberia. 

Full Text

In the lead-up to the October 10, 2023, general and presidential elections, the quest for endorsement is rising, and so is the love affair between politicians and the electorate. The former is doing all it can to get the voters on their side to ensure massive victory on election day. 

Pledging their support to the election bid of former Vice President Joseph Boakai on July 15, 2023, the president of the Federation of Motorcyclist and Tricyclist Unions of Liberia   (FOMTUL), John Kenyor, made an interesting assertion of Liberia having over 230,000 motorcyclists and tricyclists across the country. 

The figures called by President Kenyor, a former supporter of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-led government, did appear not only interesting but also alarming, given the risks of riding motorcycles and tricycles. DUBAWA, therefore, decided to verify the claim made by the head of the cyclists.

Verification

The Federation of Motorcyclist and Tricyclist Unions (FOMTUL) is a national labour federation of various unions representing the interests of motorcyclists and tricyclists across the country. 

The latest data obtained by this researcher from the Ministry of Transport’s Research, Statistics and Information Management Unit shows that in 2022 Liberia recorded 14,704 registered cyclists across the country. 

The amount is broken down under the “Report on Vehicle Registration for New License Plate Yearly Report January-December 2022” and the “Report on Vehicle Registration for Annual Renewal Stickers Yearly Report January-December.”

Specifically under the “Category M: Motorcycles,” in M1, M2, and M3 are the total figures 6946 accumulated for motorcyclists recorded in the country. While M4 and M5 representing 7,758, as shown in the data, are said to be the number of tricycles in Liberia.

Exaggerated! Liberia does not have over 230,000 registered motorcyclists and tricyclists
Image of the 2022 registrations for the new license plate.
Exaggerated! Liberia does not have over 230,000 registered motorcyclists and tricyclists
Photo of the 2022 registration for annual renewal stickers.

Speaking to the data obtained by this researcher, and the assertion from FOMTUL’s president that Liberia has over 230,000 motorcyclists and tricyclists, the Assistant Director for Research, Statistics and Information Management of the Ministry of Transport, Jasper White, confirmed that “cyclists who registered under the Ministry of Transport are those considered by the government as legitimate operators.”

Jasper pointed out that there are bike riders who only registered with FOMTUL, which the government of Liberia does not recognise. He noted, “Any other record that does not come from the Ministry of Transport should be considered null and void.”

Responding to queries from DUBAWA on whether the numbers provided are accurate in relation to the number of cyclists in Liberia, Mr Kenyor said that the figures announced during the endorsement of the standard bearer of the former ruling Unity Party are actual numbers of motorcyclists and tricyclists registered by the leadership of FOMTUL across the 15 counties by 2023.

When asked to provide the documented data of the total number of cyclists the union registered, Kenyor refused, saying, “he can not make public the data recording the number of motorcyclists and tricyclists in his union.”

When asked if his refusal to make public his records could be because the union exaggerated the figure, the cyclists’ boss responded, “If anyone doubts the numbers, we have announced that we have pledged support to make Amb Joseph, the president, comes 2023. Let them watch and see during the elections.”

Even though the official Ministry of Transport data for the number of cyclists is 14,704, DUBAWA acknowledges that there may be other cyclists operating the motorcycles whose data may not have been officially presented to the Ministry.

Therefore, the researcher proceeded to The Road Safety Secretariat Liberia, the national road prevention program introduced by the Ministry of Transport.

The Coordinator of the Road Safety Secretariat Liberia, Samuel Wonasue, stated that the figures emanating from the union are too high because that number does not correspond to the revenue generated from cyclists across the country.”

Wonasue, however, added, “The numbers of cyclists announced by the head of cyclists could be what the FOMTUL have as its data, but the Road Safety Secretariat is building a database of cyclists across the country, and so far we have gathered over 70,000 motorcyclists and Tricyclists in Liberia.”

Conclusion

The government of Liberia’s latest data shows a total of 14,704 numbers of motorcyclists and tricyclists are operating in the country. Therefore, John Kenyor’s claims that Liberia has over 230,000 motorcyclists and tricyclists are exaggerated.

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