Commuters travelling in and around Monrovia may soon be unable to make a budget for daily travel as transport fares have become unstable.
Despite a structure put into place by the Ministry of Transport for stable fares from one location to the other, taxi drivers seem to be ignoring the rule and charging at their own discretion.
From Sunday March 9 to Monday 10, commercial drivers began charged nearly twice the asking price for a distance.
One commuter we interviewed got in a taxi on 10th Street in Sinkor and disembarked at the Benson Street and Capitol Bye-pass intersection. To his surprise, the driver demanded L$25 from him rather than the usual fare of L$15.
The fare from Broad Street to Paynesville Red Light, which is usually LD$60 by taxi was— as of yesterday— increased to LD$85.
From Broad Street to ELWA Junction normally costs LD$50, but now commuters are being forced to pay as much as LD$75.
It was observed that only mini bus transport fares remained the same. For instance, fare from the McDonald Street bus parking to Old Road remains L$20 and the L$35 to reach Red Light still stood.
During our reporter’s encounters with taxi drivers earlier this week they blamed the increase in fares on the price of gasoline.
Others alleged the underlying reason behind the increase was the expenses they had to pay for their vehicle registration and the Compulsory 3rd Party insurance scheme.
According to one taxi driver, they are paying US$300 for insurance with registration costing US$200; coming to a total of US$500.
“This money is too much for one person to pay! At times it makes me think that parking my car is the best solution. Unfortunately, ‘when two elephants fight the grass suffers.’ So, we are going to get the money we are paying to government by charging our passengers,” the driver said.
Over the last week-and-a-half intensive inspections have been going on, leaving more vehicles parked for failing to register and have insurance.
This has resulted in a reduced number of vehicles plying the streets amidst huge commuter demand. This leaves people struggling on a daily basis to reach central Monrovia for work, school and other business.
As the day begins, commuters face central Monrovia and return to their homes as it ends. This causes the flow of traffic to be directed to one location with high demand at a particular time of day; another factor responsible for the skyrocketing fare as depicted by laws of supply and demand.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transport’s Press and Public Affairs Department told the Daily Observer earlier that transport fare from Monrovia and its environs are fixed; with the least being L$5 for a short distance.
According to the Ministry, distances outside of Monrovia including those to Bong, Nimba, Lofa, and other areas cannot have fixed fares because their roads are in bad conditions that cause drivers extra expenses.
A source in the Ministry told reporter that when these roads are paved as planned by government and drivers find it convenient to ply them, they will have fixed fares to the convenience of commuters.