Drivers in Monrovia are continuing to refuse to abide by new transport fares released by the Ministry of Transport on January 15, 2015, imposing their own fares through “delay tactics” strategy.
As a result of their discontent with the lower fares, public transport drivers delay in plying the streets until passengers’ demand for transportation increases before drivers bring their vehicles on the roads.
On Monday morning, hundreds of passengers lined Broad Street waiting for transportation to get to their destinations on Old Road, ELWA Junction, and Red Light areas.
As a result of fewer commercial transport vehicles on the streets, passengers going to Old Road are charged LD$50.00 by taxi against the approved LD$40.00, while buses are charging LD$30.00 over the approved LD$25.00
For ELWA Junction, taxis have been charging LD$60.00 against the approved LD$45.00 while buses were charging LD$30.00 contrary to the approved LD$25.00 since Monday of this week.
From Broad Street to Red Light taxis have been charging LD$80.00 as opposed to the approved LD$60.00 and buses are charging LD$45 and $40.00 against the approved LD$35.00.
Buses especially have been very scarce on the roads since the lower rates were announced, and through the Federation of Road Transport vehicles, drivers have been charging higher fares.
It sparked up last weekend when some passengers opposed to paying LD$25.00 against the approved fare of LD$20.00 from Broad Street to Duala.
The case was taken to the police and two FRTUL agents and the bus driver, who is an alien, were charged and detained to be sent to court. They were charged on the grounds that there was no change in the fares as claimed by them.
Drivers have remained reluctant to provide services to the public, claiming that their number of passengers has already been reduced because of Ebola and now the fare is reduced further limiting their profits.
They contend that if the fares are reduced, the number of passengers should be increased so they can earn the desired profit they need.
Prior to the Ebola crisis in Liberia, taxis took four passengers in the back and one in the front while buses took four to five persons on one long seat intended to accommodate only three persons.
For now, three persons are compulsory in the back of a taxi and three persons on a seat on the bus.
It is not clear whether the enforcement of lowers fares passengers see to be in their interest will work as drivers are devising delay tactics to increase demand for vehicles and get passengers to pay higher rates.
Unlike the past when cars appeared on the roads as early as 5:00 a.m., vehicles begin plying the road at about 6:00 a.m. By 7:00 a.m. impatient passengers waiting to get to work in central Monrovia are all along the roadside waiting and fighting for cars and willing to pay the higher fares.
Vehicles also appear late in the evening at the time people are all along the roadside anxiously waiting to go home. At this passengers have no option but to accept the driver’s self-imposed fare.
Meanwhile, as commercial drivers torment passengers in the wake of the transport fare malfunction, public buses run by the National Transit Authority (NTA) are scarcely found in the streets of Monrovia.
About two of the Indian donated buses are seen running between central Monrovia and Red Light while the rest run in the rural areas and some are on charter.
According to sources of the National Transit Authority (NTA), running outside Monrovia brings in more money to the agency and chartering is soley done in United States Dollar which is more advantageous.
A trip on an NTA bus in Monrovia from one point to any destination is LD$15.00. From Monrovia to Voinjama is L$1,500, Monrovia to Ganta LD$400.00, Monrovia to Buchanan LD$250.00 and Monrovia to Gbarnga LD$300.00.
This transportation crisis currently facing residents of Monrovia has led to a total disregard for the newly approved fares by the Ministry of Transport as the ministry is apparently not sufficiently equipped or prepared to enforce the regulation.