In Monrovia, hell continues to break loose at night when a number of private vehicle drivers convert (turn) their vehicles to commercial carriers, looking to earn extra income for the season, from stranded commuters eager to get home on time for supper, relaxation and bed.
According to some of the affected commuters and business people, vehicles seen moonlighting along the major thoroughfares (main streets, access roads) include, mini trucks, pathfinders, jeeps and even some expensive vehicles.
The commuters tell us that those vehicles operators tend to hike the fares, to the dismay of stranded commuters and business people.
In sharp reaction, such vehicle operators told the Daily Observer that the commuters have few options—if any at all: they either pay the extra fare or remain stranded on the streets.
“Pay my money now or get down from my car; otherwise I will soon drag you out of my beautiful car here on Broad street,” Driver Sackie Gonyon threatened.
The frustrated commuters and business people pointed out that the approved transport fares by the ministries of Commerce and Industry and Transport from Red-light Market are LD$60.00.
But, commercial and private vehicle operators were from Tuesday this week charging commuters and business people from Broad Street to Red-light Market LD$80.00 to LD$90.00.
Last Wednesday evening some disenchanted commuters and business people were observed in serious and bitter confrontations with commercial drivers and private operators at several points of Broad Street in Monrovia.
The angry scenes were so intense that many onlookers took to their heels to escape melees (fights, clashes) at several street corners on Wednesday evening down town Monrovia.
In early October this year, commuters and business people expressed concern over the multiple effects of transportation fare- hikes, owing to the massive turnout of Christmas shoppers from rural parts of the country.
Such apprehension, the commuters and business people claimed, had gone unheeded by line ministries charged with ensuring that commercial drivers and other public service transport providers operate within regulations.
“Our ministers and other transport regulatory bodies continue to remain mute about massive hikes in Monrovia and its environs,” one frustrated commuter lamented.
Mr. Morris B. Brown, 55, a regular Red-light Market Paynesville remarked, “We are living in hell at the hands of the transport fare-hikers in Monrovia.”
“If such a trend continues, confusion will soon spread about Monrovia.
Commuter Brown called for the urgent intervention of the line ministries involved in the regulations of prices. “They must bring some relief to the stranded commuters and business people in Monrovia,” our reporter overheard.
Another commuter and regular Christmas season seller Madam Siatta Morris Collins said all her profits made last week went into the pockets of exploitative commercial drivers in Monrovia.
“It is sad and regrettable that the current Liberian Government has over the years have been unable to provide enough and sustain transport vehicles for the population of Monrovia,” Madam Collins lamented.
“The next Christmas season, I will not engage in a fruitless business endeavor owing to the fact that I will only be working for the unscrupulous commercial drivers in Monrovia,” Madam Collins said.