Monrovia Shuts Down – Mass Protest Over Economy Begins
Monrovia – Central Monrovia, Paynesville and their environs are unusually empty this Tuesday Morning. Marketers and local business owners have decided to close their stores and refrain from selling in a show to bring government’s attention to rising inflation and increment in tariffs and taxes which they say is killing their businesses and making life difficult.
“Enough is enough. We can’t let this continue, we must take action to let them know that we are fed up with this.
All stores will remain closed, we make sure they listen to us today,” Massa Tulay, a shop keeper downtown Monrovia told FrontPageAfrica in a rather angry tone.
The usually busy Waterside Market is empty – no one allowed to sell.
Yanah boys are off Randall Street – they, too, say they are frustrated. No one seller is being allowed to enter Rally Time Market.
Petty traders and local business entrepreneurs are grouping themselves at various locations to for an onward march to the Capitol, where they are expected to petition lawmakers.
Hannah Jarpah, a local trader in Red-Light, Paynesville told FrontPageAfrica, “I support the protest.
If people can’t buy food for three days it will call their attention.
Even if some of them have food in their homes, they will still need things from the market and it will draw their attention.
The government needs to come to our rescue. We are citizens, we are giving taxes to government.
If the store owners pay high taxes, they will increase to commodities’ prices for us the petty trader and consumers will feel the pain.”
In Paynesville, stores owned by Liberians were seen closed while businesses own by foreign nationals were opened.
A resident of Paynesville Joshua Flomo supports the action of Liberian merchants adding that the increase in taxes is “unacceptable.”
“Those people have their right to demonstrate, nowhere in the world government will increase taxes in the midst of economic harsh condition and everybody fold their hands, what they are doing is call citizen action,” Flomo said.
Flomo urged the protesters to remain peaceful adding that message has already gone and there is no need to resort to violence.
Business owners engaging in cross-border trade have in recent time decried the continuous depreciation of the Liberian Dollar against the U.S. dollar.
Currently, US$1.00 is LD$110.
Those selling their goods in Liberian dollar have to exchange it for U.S. dollars, often at higher rate to be able to purchase their goods from abroad.
At the same time, government taxes are charged in U.S. dollars which is now scarce.
In two separate meetings with the protestors, the Inspector General of the Liberia National Police attempted persuading them to back down on the protest, citing security implications.
He plea, however, did not yield any positive result. The protestors maintain it would be peaceful and only intended to draw the attention of government to their plights.
Reporter Al Varney Rogers Contributed to this report