-As Passengers Remain Victims Of Price Reduction; Drivers Become Law and ‘Gospel’ To Themselves
By Esau J. Farr
Normally, most commercial drivers in Liberia overcharged passengers or travelers hiding behind high price of petroleum products on the market.
traffic in Monrovia. Photo Courtesy, Julius Kanubah
But for more than a week now since the announcement of the reduction in the price of petroleum products, drivers are still bent on overcharging passengers. In other words, there are many drivers who are still demanding passengers to pay the fares which were charged between two points at the time the price of petroleum was high on the Liberian market.
The increment in the prices of petroleum products started mid 2018 after the government of Liberia announced increment from LRD540 to LRD580 followed by a ‘laughable’ verbal reduction in transportation fares that was vehemently rejected and resisted by commercial drivers.
At that time, the debate was; “How can one increase the prices of petroleum products and reduce transport fares”?
Last week, commuters broke into the new week with news that the Government of Liberia has reduced the price of gasoline by 30-40 cents thus bringing the price of gasoline around LRD525 and below, but commercial drivers are still demanding the old fares charged when gasoline was LD580.
One commercial driver who runs between the 72nd Boulevard and Barnesville Communities was said to have gone on the rampage telling members of the Federation of Road Transport Union (FRTUL) of Liberia that he would not adhere to their demand to reduce his price except the Ministry of Transport intervenes.
When asked by passengers as to whether he usually takes advice or instructions from the MoT, he dangled considering that commercial drivers usually do not wait for MoT authorities to stipulate prices in the midst of high petroleum prices, but go ahead and arbitrarily hike transport fares as soon they realize increment, but ignore the fact to reduce fares when prices are reduced too.
Even in the midst of cries from commuters and confrontations as well as fights in some cases between and amongst passengers and drivers, transport authorities remain mute as commuters are left to survive at the mercy of drivers since they (passengers) are forced to move to and from to honor their daily activities including job and business.
“That’s why I say drivers can steal more than Zogoes; because, when zogoes steal from you, you will not know right on the spot, but the drivers can steal from you looking at your face during broad daylight,” one angry business woman popped in as she recounted her experiences since the pronouncement of reduction in petroleum product was made.
Sadly, for Liberians, especially commuters, when central government announced increment in the prices of Gasoline ($580) and Fuel ($615) between June and July 2018, the government promised that in three months it was working out mortality to ensure that price of Gasoline be reduced to around (LRD$360) in a period of three months, there were mixed reactions and disbeliefs and sure enough, a dream that Liberians are still expecting. TNR