“Aaa God, my money left in my market o!” the woman cried as people sat around sympathizing with her.
This holiday season, many Liberian market women brought bundles of clothes, toys and cheap ‘seasonal’ imports to sell. Many say they spent as much as US$150, expecting back at least US$300 in profit. But to their surprise, they did not make the profit or even reap the initial capital.
According to business and merchandise sellers around Duala market on the northern edge of Monrovia, the rise in the currency exchange have caused prices of commodities to go up as well.
“So our prices increased and that should mean the women who are buying the products need to raise the prices of it according to how they buy,” added Bashir, a store owner in Duala.
“Most people don’t understand the business of buy and sell. They buy a bag of clothes for a certain amount and expect more than the profit we make, who sell it to them wholesale. Consumers will not buy, that is why the goods left in the streets this season. Consumers were over-charged too much,” he added.
A lady buying children’s clothes at US$5 for a top/bottom set said that the items in the market were not attractive.
“I only bought these things because my children like seeing the black plastic. But the things are not attractive too much, so-so Chinese clothes,” the woman added.
But that’s not all. The transport fare from Duala market to Broad Street has also increased by L$20. Before the US currency exchange rate increased, the fare from Duala to town was L$40. Now with the increase of the fares, regardless of destination, there was a corresponding increase in the amount of fights between passengers and driver.
“Your money is not correct,” drivers would contend.
“I beg you yah,” passengers responded in defiance.
For instance, a woman and her children were charged an extra L$10 from Saint Paul Bridge to Duala and when she paid the driver less than what he expected, causing him to violently demand more money.
“In the mix of it, a fight broke out,” stated Nush, a Duala seller. “The driver wanted to force the woman to give him the money from her hand, when he punched her face. Her elder son was there and helped defend his mother from the driver’s attack. Both were escorted to New Kru Town police depot.”
Meanwhile, a lot has changed and so did this holiday season.
Children remain on the streets, begging anyone who they believe could give them money. Cars flying past and motorcycles missing children right and left, there are no chaperones to mind them.