Presley Tenwah, the Acting chairman of the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL) who organized the three-day shutdown of businesses (Jan. 31-Feb. 2) in Monrovia, told journalists yesterday that the government has up to Sunday to take steps to reduce high tariffs on imported goods, ensure stability in the rate of the Liberian dollar to the US dollar and end harassment of petty traders by the police.
Tenwah said if the three requests do not get the attention of the Liberian government, his organization will plan a massive protest next week that will include shutting down gas stations.
PATEL’s constituency includes the Liberian Business Association, Car Dealers Association, and the National Petty Traders Association.
Tenwah said all business associations were notified of the end of PATEL’s three-day protest which included the shutting down of businesses in and around Monrovia, and called on them to resume normal business as of today, Friday, February 3.
Tenwah told journalists that the decision to end the three-day strike stemmed from PATEL fulfilling its original protest, and also to give the Liberian government time to live up to their demands.
Tenwah said: “We are ending the strike action to give the Liberian government the chance to find lasting solutions, but we must state that we will resume the strike action to also involve gas stations if there are no fruitful results from the assurances we have received.
“If the government does not move to do what we asked, we will enforce Plan B, which will include, as I said, gas stations; and commercial vehicles will be stopped from plying the streets.
“The strike we have carried out took our peaceful citizens unaware and so we are now giving them the chance in the next three to four days to purchase their food and other items they need in their homes so that they can be fully prepared for the next action,” Tenwah said.
He said the association’s decision to end the protest came about willingly, not based on intimidation or threat from anyone or group. “It is meant to have peaceful citizens exercise their rights and have the necessary items they need to move on for the next days.”
He extended thanks to the Liberian people and all members who stood with them “in the struggle to get justice,” especially the Fula, Nigerian, Indian, and Lebanese business associations and National Customs Brokers Association, among others.
Meanwhile, PATEL’s action prompted President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to call her Cabinet and Economic Management Team, which were expected to meet yesterday, February 2, to address concerns raised by the business community.
President Sirleaf made the disclosure in a brief statement to journalists upon her arrival on Wednesday, February 1, at the Roberts International Airport from the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Although she expressed concern over the protest, she then alleged that “Some of those involved with the protest are part of the problem, and some of those businesspeople who closed their shops in protest were engaged in hoarding” of foreign exchange.