Liberia: ’Unnecessary and Inhumane’ — Commuters, Drivers Describe Ongoing Vehicle Registration Exercise amid High Petrol Prices
MONROVIA – The ongoing vehicle and driver’s license inspection being carried out by the Ministry of Transport to many Liberians is an act of insensitivity towards the plights of citizens amid the high price of petroleum products which has added to the transportation difficulties in the country.
Inspectors from the Ministry set up their roadblocks as early as 5:30AM to begin the inspection of registration documents, driver’s license and insurance.
This leads to a daily huge traffic along all major roads.
Many commercial drivers have decided to park their vehicles due to their inability to afford gasoline which now sells at US$5.66 per gallon. Others, too, have hiked transportation fares astronomically as the government is yet to release new official prices since the increment in price of petrol.
A commercial driver who runs from Monrovia to the Port City of Buchanan has called on the government to drop the tariff on petroleum products to avoid strangulating its own citizens.
Fred D. Kwidee said, “We cannot be facing high increment in gas and at the same time be hit by inspection of our vehicles – that’s is a double wahala for us. We call on the government of Liberia to see reason to reduce the tariff on petroleum products so that we who are main users will not suffer.”
Another driver speaking to FrontPageAfrica at the ELWA Junction in Paynersville, Jarsey Barclay,described the inspection process as not necessary and called on the government of Liberia to halt the process and allow its citizens to survive.
“This gas increment is suffering us, we are not making the money already since the increment because there is not enough money to buy more gas, the one or two gallon we can buy to hurry and drop our passengers in town we find ourselves arrested and parked for registration and even those that are registered cannot also make money because as soon they hit road to make one trip from ELWA to Central Monrovia ,they spend hours in the inspection traffic, their small gas they were depending to make small money can finish right in that traffic,” Barclay lamented.
Peter Yancy, another driver said: You can not hit us hard with such wicked action, our interest should be looked at at all times because we gave our leaders the opportunity to decide for us as citizens and even as driver like myself, already there is no job, for me I decided to run my taxi after sitting for over three years after my graduation no job… To be frank, the government is killing the sector, let them remove that colorful socks minister who is ridding his expensive car and put someone who has the passion to transform the Ministry.”
William S. Flomo, a member of the ELWA Transport Union says the process of inspection is not helpful at this time, “We cannot be fighting to overcome high price of gas then the government on the other hand is frustrating us with inspections, we want breath,” he said.
For Jefferson Morlu, the ongoing inspection exercise is like facing two challenges at the same time and termed the process as “unnecessary”.
At the same time, some political parties including the Unity Party and the movement to support Cllr.Tiawan Gongloe as President have condemned the government’s decision to carryout inspection and impound unregistered vehicle at this point in time.
Both political groups in separate statements indicated that though they acknowledge the global economic crisis as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war, the Liberian government’s justification for the sharp increases is groundless and unwarranted but deliberate to strangulate ordinary Liberians who the already dire state of the nation adversely affects.
In Sierra Leone, the Government there, has increased by mere 65 cents the cost of a gallon of gasoline and diesel while Guinea and Togo are yet to announce any price increases. In Togo, gasoline and diesel respectively stand at US$3.23 and US$3.31 though in Guinea, US$4.22. In Ghana, where the petroleum market is deregulated, a gallon of gasoline and diesel goes for US$4.33 whereas in Cote d’Ivoire, US$4.03 and US$3.914,respectively. However, in Liberia, gasoline was increased from $4 to $5.66 while diesel now sells at $6.
“Given the above mentioned, it is clear the gasoline and diesel fuel prices in other West African countries remain unchanged or have seen modest increases. Thus, the Liberian Government’s slogs of more than 40 and 36 percent in prices of the essential commodities are utterly unreasonable and disregard the adverse effect it now has on ordinary Liberian families and businesses. These sharp changes in the prices have a direct effect on prices of food, transportation and other life essentials with which the poor barely cope. Overall, life in today’s Liberia is a nightmare given the worst electricity generation problems occasioned by constraints in running private generators for businesses and homes,” Team Gongloe indicated in a press statement.
Mr. Peter Quaqua, former President of the Press Union of Liberia and current head of the West Africa Journalist Association, has also called on the Ministry of Transport to reconsider its timing for the inspection. He also called on the Ministry to find other avenues through which it can raise revenue for the country.
Dear Minister Samuel Wlue:
Please permit me to remind you that the Government is supposed to create an enabling environment for the population “to go about their normal business.” I should congratulate you and your team for the aggression in raising needed Government revenue. You’ve done inspection every year, if not every six months.
So, you should by now be a master of your own game. It is about time that you found creative ways to collect Government taxes and stop this punishing vehicle inspection practice. Your inspectors have easily degenerated into obstructing the movement of law-abiding people. Just think for a moment about school kids who are made to sit in your inspection traffic when they should in class.
This is unacceptable, Sir!