Liberians Urge Gov’t to Abandon High Tariff Imposed on GSM Firms


Monrovia – With the already appalling economic situation, many Liberians say the cancellation of the three-day free calls promotion by the country’s two GSM companies will heighten the serious problems for them. 

Report by J. H. Webster Clayeh, [email protected]

The new regulation which came into force on September 1, according to the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), is an intervention to calls by mobile network operators (MNO).

But consumers will obviously feel the pinch the as some of them have being telling FrontPageAfrica.

Johnatta D. Allison, Jacob Town Resident

“Communication is very much important, when you need some assistance from your relatives you can easily call them using the three-day free call. Even when my phone is out of credit I can easily ask somebody else and that person will allow me use their phone.

The 45 minutes for US$1 will not still help. At first, when cellphone companies were charging 15 minutes for a dollar, the country’s economy was on track but with the present situation in the country, 45 minutes is too small. 

Even to find food is hard then you take $220 Liberian dollar to buy scratch card for just 45 minutes of calls? At times, making calls you never know the situation and before you come to yourself, the 45 minutes will elapse.

I want to recommend that the government and the cellphone companies have a common ground.  Let the government see how best they can reduce the tariff on telephone companies so that we can have our three-day free call back.”   

Varney Fahnbulleh, CDC vice Chair for Mobilization, Grand Cape Mount County

“The cancellation of the three-day free call is not timely because it has the propensity to undermine the CDC-led government.

I am calling on the government and the cellphone companies to go back on the drawing table to see how best the masses can get their three-day free call back.

The three-day free call in my mind is politically motivated; I believed that oppositions will use it to undermine us politically. 

For us to maintain our various constituents, the three-day free call needs to be available for our people. More than 75 percent of our people in the various counties right now are not working. 

Things are difficult and most Liberians are depending on the three-day free call. Now $230 Liberian dollars for scratch card and when you buy the scratch card to call for only 45 minutes will be a problem.

I am looking at this situation politically, because I am a Cdician and I believe in the pro-poor agenda. I believed President Weah will win his second term but we have to put mechanisms into place.”

Emmanuel Wahblo, former president of Grand Gedeh University Student Union

“The government is not acting fair to the citizens. The cancellation of the three-day free calls will cause serious problem for the masses. 

The 45 minutes is not enough, because of the way we speak. We from the African background, to talk for short time is not part of us. My grandmother in Grand Gedeh, if I try to talk to her it will not be for short time. My grandmother will like to talk to all of her relatives in Monrovia.   

So, you see the 45 minutes will be used in less than one day.  For me, I really want the three-day free call to come back because it is really importance to the Liberian people.”

Emmanuel Henry, Scratch Card Dealer

“The cancellation of the three-day is very bad for the Liberian people. First of all, we are now selling scratch card for $230. Before when we were selling scratch card for 130 or even 150; we used to sell three to four packs of scratch card a day.

But since the scratch card climbed to L$230, I cannot even sell half pack which is 20 pieces a day. So, the way the three-day has been cancelled many people will just lay their phone down.

Since today, I have not sell US$10 dollars scratch card. So, the three-day cancellation will be very bad for the cellphone companies too. Cellphone companies will not make more money.”

Moibah V. Kiadii, official of the Center for the Exchange of Intellectual Opinion (CEIO)

“Cancelling the three-day free call will be adding problem on burden. The economic system is very bad. Family members can use the three-days to adequate communicate to their relatives. 

We are in the rainy season and the condition of the road is very bad. So, if you have the three-day, you will have sufficient time to talk to your relatives in the hinterland. 

Providing 45 minutes of calls is not sufficient. It is not about saying hello. The three-day free call can make you to talk your family members in different areas. So, 45 minutes cannot be suited in that direction, it is a drip in the ocean.” 

Michael Gotomo, spokesman for the citizens united to bring back our three-day free call

For us, we will be going to our Legislature to see how best they can restore our three-day free call. With the present economy situation in our country, cancelling the three-day free call will not afford us the chance to talk to our people in the rural areas.

One dollar scratch card now is $230 Liberian dollars. Just go to the various communities, people are crying seriously against the decision of the Liberian Telecommunication Authority. I recommend that the three-day free call should be restored for the suffering masses.”

Washington Monjolo, Spokesman for the Liberia National Shoe Shine Union

“The cancellation of the three-day free call will suffer we the common people. This is not the right time. Look at the economic situation that we are in, time is hard.

We cannot even get a dollar to put it in our phone. Common man like me shining shoes, I get phone but now to put money in my phone is not easy. We don’t even have food to eat.

For me, I voted the CDC. But the President got to stand tall. People who are behind the President are messing up.

Let President Weah make sure that the three-day free call comes back. We have our people in Monrovia that we need to talk to and they also using the three-day free call to call us.”

Theresa Weah, Street Vender  

“Cancelling the three-day free call will be a problem for us. Right now the country is hard. For you to see someone putting money in their phone is not easy. I think 45 minutes is not enough for us to talk to our people.

The three-day free call is also making people to do all types of things with their phones. Some people take their phones and cause confusion with other people but the time is hard so I think the three-day free call should back for us the common people. 

Johnson C. Wesseh, UL Student

“The cancellation of the three-day free call is not welcoming. Not too many people will be able to buy the scratch cards and the cellphone companies will loss greatly.

The people have already gotten adapted to the three-day free call. Giving 45 minutes will not help the appalling situation. If the government wants to do such a thing they do not need to do it abruptly.

I can say this, instead of just taking the three-day, let them start with two-day free call and the cellphone companies can still make more money.”