Locally grown produce sellers based in several rural parts of the country have urgently appealed to the Ministries of Commerce, Industry and Transport to intervene in the current hike in transport fares.
In several encounters and interviews with the rural small businesspeople mainly women, they pointed out that majority of their profit margins from harvested produce ends up in the pockets of commercial drivers.
For the past 15 years, rural locally grown produce sellers have complained on many occasions about the drastic hike in transport fares across the country.
They complain that their cries and appeals have only been addressed with empty promises by Ministries of Commerce, Industry and Transport officials.
Regrettably, sugar-coated assurances have come from the mouths of many government officials evading the hard socio-economic conditions of small rural businesspeople.
Promises of help have not been translated into practical and realistic measures that could address the unending transport related challenges of the small rural businesspeople in the country.
Meanwhile a majority of the urban markets greatly depend on rural locally produce sellers for the conveyance of critically needed commodities that would in turn balance the diets of urban dwellers.
According to transport and commerce analysts, policies geared towards addressing the decades old transportation problems must be practical and reflect the realities on the ground in all parts of the country and the challenges faced by small rural businesspeople over the years in the country.
“Our sentiments, calls, cries and appeals have fallen on deaf ears and dumped in the dust bin of history by the relevant agencies of past and present Liberian governments,” a disenchanted woman charged.
Rural peanut producer Hawa Ballah Kollie, 45, told the Daily Observer over the weekend that she has not able to make any decent profit due to the high cost of transportation and other unbearable circumstances.
Madam Kollie who brought to the Red-light Market over the weekend 12 bags of peanuts pointed out that she spent a huge amount of money to transport the harvested produce to Monrovia.
“I’m currently doing business at a considerable loss owing to the hike in transport fares from Bong County to the urban markets of Monrovia,” Madam Kollie lamented.
Cassava grower Betty B. Tokpa, 39, said that almost all of the sales of her cassava produce landed in the pockets of commercial drivers as a result of the hike in transport fares in many parts of the country.
“I’m only working for the commercial drivers and other public service providers, hence something practical must be put in place by the Ministries of Commerce, Industry and Transport,” Madam Tokpa stressed.
A cucumber and bitter ball grower, Youngor B. Mulbah, 55, of Margibi County intimated that on many occasions the harvested produce gets rotten owing to the scarcity of transport vehicles and hike in transport fares.
“I want the Liberian government ministries responsible to decentralize their official functions in several parts of the country in order to monitor the transport fares throughout the country,” Madam Mulbah emphasized.
Relax State of Emergency
In related developments, some of the affected rural business women have sounded an urgent call on the Liberian Government to consider relaxing the State of Emergency in the country.
The women explained that the State of Emergency has placed so many restrictions on the movement of critically needed locally grown and produced commodities in the country.
“Consider our plight now and relax the State of Emergency so that we can be able to work, produce and supply the urban markets with the needed commodities,” the women urged.