As another fleet of donated buses arrive for the Government of Liberia (GoL), in an effort to ease the country’s bleak and often pathetic transport problems, fare prices are on the increase as ever, leading many to urge for government’s intervention.
The Government of India early last week donated 15 additional buses to the Liberian government, which, as with previous donations from the Indian government, is aimed at easing the current rise of transport fares.
But despite the donation the buses are yet to be administered for public transportation, leaving many to wonder at precisely when they will be deployed in Monrovia and other parts of country. And this comes at a time when owners of commercial and private vehicles, including owners of petroleum products, are contributing to the price hike, demanding more fares and increasing the prices of gas and oil.
In fact since December 5, commercial drivers and other vital public service transport providers in Monrovia and other parts of the country have continued to raise transport fares – and much to the detriment of commuters and businesspeople, many of whom can barely afford the price hike.
And this also comes at a time when Liberia’s Petroleum Refining Company Managing Director, T. Nelson Williams, and Commerce and Industry Minister Axel Addy, are doing much to reduce the pump prices of petroleum products throughout the country.
In a weekend tour of Monrovia’s three main commercial districts — Red-light, Waterside and Duala — our correspondent gathered in separate interviews from a number of businesspeople that despite the hike in fare prices profits from goods sales are significant, especially during the Christmas season. But most profits, they said, are being pocketed by unscrupulous commercial drivers. Already, on Monday and Tuesday of this week commuters, civil servants and businesspeople were seen stranded at the Red-Light Market in Paynesville, many of them complaining about the raise in transport fares. People are now paying approximately LD$75.00 from Red-light Market to Broad Street in central Monrovia. Some commercial drivers are even believed to be demanding LD$120, leaving many schocked and saddened about whether government is doing anything at all to bring the situation under control; and not just in Monrovia but in other parts of the country.
Commuter Joseph B. Collins, 58, told the Daily Observer that commercial drivers had become “heartless and completely wicked. I want commercial drivers in Monrovia and other parts of the country caught and sent to jail,” Collins added, adding that they were greedy, selfish and individuals in every shape, form and manner.
Businesswoman Mary B. Wesseh, 44, of Central Monrovia told the Daily Observer at the Duala General Market on Bushrod Island that commercial drivers have become gods unto themselves, hiking transport fares at will.
Madam Wesseh, a retailer of oranges and peanuts, said that commercial drivers and owners of private vehicles care less about regulated prices and a decrease in the price of petroleum products.
“I want the Liberia National Police officers and Ministry of Transport’s monitors assigned for traffic control and transport fares to monitor commercial drivers and private vehicle owners in Monrovia and other parts of the country,” Madam Wesseh said.
At the Waterside commercial district used clothes dealer Elizabeth B. Tamba said that commercial drivers are not only unscrupulous but very corrupt in their business activities.
When contacted, commercial driver Solomon Blamo, 38, told the Daily Observer in a defiant mood that commercial drivers will continue to hike transport fares at all times in the country.
Another commercial driver, Christopher Flomo, 42, pointed out that prices of spare-parts are being hiked by auto-part dealers in all parts of the country.
“Therefore, we will continue to hike transport fares until government can take the appropriate steps to monitor custom duties on the importation of auto-parts in the country.”
Photo: A cross-section of Stranded Commuters and Businesspeople at Red-light Market in Paynesville