–Liberian Business People Held ‘Hostage’
By Western Region Correspondent
TNR, Monrovia, Liberia: It was almost like a drama at the Liberia-Sierra Leone border last week when three Sierra Leonean Trucks with huge consignment of the Pro Poor rice were detained by Liberian security officers assigned at the Bo-Waterside border.
One of the Trucks with service name, “Man of God,” was said to have been heading to neighboring Sierra Leone with the rice to be sold at a high price. The 50kg rice is said to be sold on the Liberian market for about US$15.00 while a 25kg bag of rice should be sold for about US$10.00.
Business people returning from Sierra Leone over the weekend told this paper that the 50kg is sold for over US$30.00(when converted into the Leones, the official currency of Sierra Leone) while the 25kg is also sold twice the price in Liberia.
So, due to this, the three trucks were detained at the Bo Waterside for questioning.
The incident occurred early Saturday at the border. Security sources told this paper that realizing that the consignment was the pro-poor rice, they decided to question the drivers.
The pro-poor rice was recently brought into the country by the government as a means of helping citizens. But in recent times, the rice has been scare on the market. Our reporter who visited many stores last week, did not see any of the pro-poor rice in most of the major rice depots in Monrovia.
Custom officers at the border denied the trucks exit permit until clarity on the rice was released.
Our sources at the border said this annoyed the Sierra Leone security officers who demanded the release of the trucks. The officers later detained Liberian marketers enroute from Sierra Leonea that they would only be released once the trucks were allowed to leave.
One of the trucks, ALR 941 with a service name: ‘Mother’s Blessing’ is said to have been stopped from crossing into Sierra Leone.
“They told our people who went to buy goods that unless the trucks are released, they will not allow them to cross,” the officer who declined to be name said.
The business people were detained by the Sierra Leonean officers for over six hours. It is not known whether the trucks were allowed to cross into Sierra Leone.
But the Director of Communication at the Ministry of commerce, Mitchell Jones told this paper late Sunday that “I can neither have confirmed nor deny that information. But what I can say is that our inspectorate division is investigating the matter.”