Liberia: Commuters Want New Transport Fare Enforcement, As Drivers Demand Petroleum Price Reduction
Monrovia – Since the Ministry of Transport (MOT) announced the reduction in transportation fare and gasoline price, there have been continuous confusion and tussles between commercial drivers and passengers.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
Passengers are calling on the drivers to abide by the MOT regulations, but the drivers are recalcitrant.
They are arguing that unless the retailers of petroleum retailers agreed to go by the MOT mandate by reducing the price of their products, they will ignore the new regulations.
In protest, some drivers are packing their vehicles off the streets, leaving hundreds of commuters stranded at home. Many workers were constrained to arrive late at work.
Speaking to FrontPage Africa on Monday, July 30 in downtown Monrovia, a cross-section of commuters and drivers expressed diverse opinions on the unfolding situation.
Despite the constraints, some have welcomed the government’s move but implored it to ensure that the regulations are implemented to the fullest.
Timothy Sogar, a commuter, said in order for the mandate to work, it would require the collaboration of all actors including the government, commuters and commercials drivers.
“The President should see reason to lower the price of the gasoline. They should talk to the people to see how best it can be reduced little a bit. This is because a driver will not be buying gas for L$540.00 and taking passengers from Broad Street to Old Road for LD$50; the driver too should be reasonable in charging passengers. Both sides should compromise,” he said.
“It’s a Scam”
But Grace Gono, a resident of Airfield who carries a copy of the MOT fare listing, is pessimistic.
She describes the regulation as fake and pointed out that unless the government reduces the price of petroleum, the whole directive will not be effective.
“The Government is not serious. How can you drop transportation fare and leave the gas price up? Without gas, the cars will not run. I just paid L$60 from Airfield to come Broad Street, whereas it should have been L$45.
“The drivers are saying they are buying gas for L$550 and so if you come up to drop the transportation fare, you should also drop the price of fuel. Go to the gas stations and see to it that the price is dropped. Until that is done, everything you said is a scam,” she lambasted.
Another commuter, Alfred T. Konuwa added that all sides should work together to make the new mandate work for the benefits of all.
“Stop being Rebuttal”
Konuwa blamed the cries of disenchantments by the public over the failure of the government to give out the information needed for public consumption.
He called on the Ministry of Information to “stop being a rebuttal institution” and double its effort in dissimilating information to the public.
“Government should explain to the people of whatsoever decision it is taking. If there is any increase in the price of a particular commodity, it should explain the reasons. People are not being informed why prices of gasoline and other commodities are going up. Instead of the Information Ministry becoming a rebuttal institution, it should explain the government’s policies and decisions.”
“In serious tussles”
Eddington Ghangbleh, a minibus driver, says since the pronouncement of the reduction of the fares, they (commercial drivers) have been in “serious tussles” with commuters.
“They are saying that the price for fuel is L$495.00, but when we go buy to TOTAL [gas station], they will demand us to pay L$560.00. We are losing, and because of this, we and the passengers are in serious tussles. They want us to go by the government’s regulation and we are saying no,” Ghangbleh explained.
He advised regulators to put in place a robust monitoring system to ensure that all parties abide by the MOT mandate.
“Let the government create an avenue that if we go buy gas and fuel at the petrol station and if they refuse [the stipulated price], we will inform them [government], and they will come and enforce it. With that we can be assured that the policy will work,” he said.
Saa Dennis, another driver, added, “We can’t be buying diesel from TOTAL, NP and Aminata (petroleum retailers) for L$560 then we are taking somebody from Mechline Street to Red Light for L$40. It can’t work! To bring transportation down, bring down the gas price first.”
On Friday, July 27, the MOT released new transportation fare for Monrovia and its environs.
The Ministry also announced that a gallon of gasoline should now be sold at L$485.00 and fuel oil L$495.00.
Although the ministry announced that the measure will run within a three-month monitoring period, FrontPage Africa has observed that the mandate is being grossly ignored.