Liberia: Commuters Criticize Ministry of Transport as Transportation Is Still High

The Ministry of Transport has failed to regulate transportation fare despite significant drop in petroleum price

Monrovia – Transportation fares remain unchanged in Monrovia and its environs despite the significant drop in the price of petroleum on the local market.    

Report by Alpha Daffae Senkpeni, [email protected]

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry on January 7 announced a reduction in the price of all petroleum products on the local market. The price of a gallon of gas has now dropped from US$3.70 to US$3.30 while the gallon of fuel oil is now US$3.70, a US$0.25 reduction in the previous price.

The reduction was based on a change in the price on the world market and the Ministry of Commerce said that it will continue to comply with the international market price, adding that there will be reduction in the prices of petroleum products where necessary.

For now, a gallon of gasoline is sold in Monrovia and its environs for as low as L$510.00, but transportation fares remain the same..

The Ministry of Transport, the main regulator of the sector, has made no move so far to release a new list of fares for various locations within Monrovia and its environs.

Before the recent drop in price, commuters were paying LD$100 from the ELWA junction in Paynesville to central Monrovia, while LD$150 was charged from the commercial district of Red Light to Central Monrovia.

Last week witnessed several skirmishes between passengers and taxi drivers.

One incident witnessed by a FrontPageAfrica reporter, involving a passenger and driver saw a driver demanding a passenger to pay more.

It was a chaotic scene that had to be calmed by the intervention of a traffic police officer, who was just around the area.

Some passengers told FPA that the Transport Ministry has to be proactive. Others asserted that the new pricing would avert frequent commotion between commuters and drivers.

“Just how the price of gas drops that’s how the transport ministry should come up with the price of transportation,” says Wilson Dean, a resident of Paynesville.

“It’s been almost a week since the gas price dropped but we are still seeing cabmen charging the same old price; what kind of country is thin?

“Driver are the ones making their own price while the ministry sits and allow people to be embarrassed.”

Another commuter, Helen Siawaye blames the Ministry of Transport for the onslaught, calling on it to act expediently.

“People are being paid by the government from our taxes but they are not doing their jobs properly,” she said.

“Transport Ministry is not doing their work; they are responsible for all these troubles happening on the streets. People are not supposed to be stealing from us, some of these drivers are stealing from us the passengers but the government ministry that supposed to regulate are not working.”

Meanwhile, a driver who spoke to FPA argued that the drop in price of petroleum should not be the only reason to cut down the transportation price.

“We pay all kinds of money to maintain our cars so we are not only looking at gas, what about spare parts? Everything price in this country is up so transportation has to be up too,” he argues.

The MoT is yet to make any statement so far, while the situation continues for the second week.

FPA made frantic efforts to obtain comments from the Ministry but it proved futile.

 When the Ministry opted to release fare list in late 2018, many drivers criticized their move terming it as “unrealistic”. The drivers and the transport unions argued that the decision didn’t commensurate with the price of petroleum at the time.

By then the Ministry announced that the fare will be monitored for the period of three months, which was from July to September. The move was because of the fluctuation of the exchange rate.

According to the ministry, that decision was informed by a certain research on the cost of petroleum on the world market, taking into consideration some of the domestic economic variables.

Some drivers recommended that government should have held discussions with leaders of the transport union before drawing up new transportation fares. They argued that it would have helped mitigate the disagreements of drivers. For now, many commuters are concern about the MoT’s lackadaisical posture and they say it has the potential of causing social and economic implications if nothing is done in the coming weeks.