From all indications, irate commercial drivers are ignoring the reduced fares recently announced by the Ministries of Transport and Commerce and Industry and have instead continued to hike their fares for destinations in and around Monrovia.
The transport fares were reduced in line with reductions in the prices of petroleum products on the market.
After the recent announcement of the new fares it was surprising, early last week, in the business district of Red Light in Paynesville, to find commuters engaged in bitter confrontation with public transport drivers who refused to accept the reduced fares.
As a result of these standoffs, commercial drivers usually abort their direct trips to Monrovia and instead route passengers to Old Road, which would then require passengers to pay for the added trip from Old Road to central Monrovia. For commuters, this could mean at least one and a half times what they already pay for a direct trip.
Reports received from commercial districts around Monrovia also reveal that drivers are still charging the old or even higher transport fares from the commercial districts of Waterside, Duala and Red-light to central Monrovia.
“We are not going to accept the newly adjusted fares because we are only taking three persons at the back of our taxis and buses from this Red-light Market in Paynesville,” drivers contended.
“As for me, I will not accept the new transport fares because nobody helped to buy my car,” driver Cyrus Thomas declared.
Some observers are of the opinion that the newly announced fares are not sustainable and may be unrealistic because government simply does not have the capacity to enforce the fares.
Others believe that if the fares must be enforced, then police officers and others charged with that responsibility should exhibit the highest standards of integrity and fairness.
Affected commuters and businesspeople encountered at the Red-light and Waterside Markets sounded urgent appeals for the enforcement of the new fares to be carried out without fear or favor, no matter who is involved in the violations.
Commuter Washington B. Kolliewala, 57, intimated that the police, as well as the Ministries of Transport and Commerce, must be vigilant and muster the courage to arrest and prosecute all violators of the transport fare regulations.
Kolliewala who was visibly angry and frustrated over the fare hikes called on the Liberian Government to immediately deploy the buses recently donated by the Indian Government.
“Adding more transport buses in Monrovia and other parts of the country would certainly ease the fare increases by commercial drivers and other public service transport providers in Liberia,” commuter Kolliewala suggested.
Another commuter, Davidetta M. Flomo, 54, told the Daily Observer that warnings issued by ministries and agencies of the Liberian Government should be translated into concrete and practical actions.
Madam Flomo claimed that each time the government pronounces new transport fares in Monrovia, defiance and confrontation take place instead of compliance to rules and regulations in the country.