As the exchange rate of the US dollar skyrockets against the weak Liberian dollar, prices of imported and locally produced commodities have gone through the roof in the country.
From all indications in governmental circles, there seems to be no practical solution to the escalating exchange rate, which is climbing daily.
Foreign exchange bureau operators in Monrovia Wednesday, January 8, told the Daily Observer the buying rate of the US dollar now stands at LD$88 to 89 to US$1.
A visit to some markets in Monrovia, local produce such as eddoes, pawpaw (papaya), cassava, bitter balls, oranges, cucumbers, plantains, greens, and potatoes prices have sharply increased beyond the reach of most ordinary Liberians.
Consequently, early morning shoppers of the above commodities at the Red-light market Wednesday were shocked and in disbelief when they were told the sharp increases on all locally produced commodities brought by rural farmers from upcountry.
Rural farmers in response told the shoppers that the profit margins on their produce have been left in the hands of the commercial drivers and other transport providers.
Imported goods such as used clothes, plastic dishes, roofing sheets (zinc), nails, ceiling tiles, paints, cement, etc. have been sharply increased in most business centers in Monrovia as well.
Another result of the soaring foreign exchange rate is that transportation fares have been hiked by commercial drivers and other public service transport providers.
From the commercial district of Paynesville Red-light Market as of January 5, commercial drivers and others are now charging commuters LD$90 (US$1.5) to Broad Street in Monrovia. At least three weeks ago, it was L$60 from Redlight to Broad Street.
Other reports obtained by the Daily Observer also said that commuters from Duala, the second largest commercial district in Monrovia, are encountering similar challenges at the hands of transport providers.
The approved Ministry of Commerce and Industry and transport fare is LD$60.00 from Red-light Market to Broad Street in Monrovia.
Due to the sharp increase in transportation fares, there were scenes of angry confrontation Wednesday amongst commuters, drivers, and business people at Red-light in Paynesville City.
“We are tired with this transport fare menace that continues to dehumanize our dignity as Liberians in our own country by unscrupulous commercial drivers,” one commuter, Peter B. Mulbah stated.
On the other hand commercial drivers contend that the price of petroleum products have been dramatically increased on the Liberian market, so they, too, have to increase transport fares in order to make profit as well.
When contacted some importers of petroleum products told the Daily Observer that owing to the difficulties in obtaining foreign exchange on the Liberian market, they are left with no other option but to increase the price of petroleum products in order to make profits.