MONROVIA, Liberia (PANA) - The Liberian government Wednesday began demolishing some 13 checkpoints around the capital erected by the West African peace monitoring group in early 1997.
The director of police, Paul Mulbah, who led the demolition team comprising police officers and employees of the ministry of public works, said the dismantling of the check points had been ordered by President Charles Taylor.
A teeming crowd looked on as bulldozers razed the pre-stressed concrete checkpoints built with US government assistance to enhance the security of Monrovia ahead of the July 1997 national elections.
"This is an additional sign that security in the country has generally improved," Mulbah told reporters. "This will also enhance the free flow of traffic."
The checkpoints had been manned by members of the police special operation division which took over when the sub-reginal force withdrew early 1999 as part of a count-down to its pull-out from Liberia.
Mulbah said only two of the checkpoints located in Careysburg, along the country's major highway, and in the western suburb of Gardnersville will be maintained.
The demolition exercise temporarily affected the early morning rush-hour traffic as commercial and private vehicles detoured to other routes.
The removal of the checkpoints is a great relief to commercial drivers who were victims of daily police harassment primarily intended to extort money from them.
One onlooker said the removal of the checkpoints was "like wiping away a scar of the war."
But he expressed the desire to see a reduction in the proliferation of guns in the city which, he said, is "yet another source of trauma".
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