By Alex Yomah
Commercial drivers including motorbikes and kehkehs are said to be using the covid-19 regulations to exploit the citizenry by their artificial hike in transport fares.
Every time there is some crisis, commercial drivers take advantage of the situation and derive any price for passengers and since the surge of the variant coronavirus couple with its subsequent restrictions by the Incident Management System, the transport unions are now the controllers of the prices.
The measure issued by the Ministry of Health which among other things instructs that commercial vehicles carry three in the back and one in the front while kehkehs are entitled to two passengers and motorbikes are to take one at a time and this is only intended to prevent the rapid spread of the deadly and does not in any way affects the price of petroleum products in the country.
With the silence from the Ministry of Transport, Liberians are blaming the hike on the authorities at the Ministry that is causing economic hardship on ordinary citizens thereby resulting to wanton fist fights between passengers and drivers.
Drivers are beginning to refer passengers to Transport Minister Samuel Wlue for answers for the sudden increase in the prices of transport as the Ministry is clothed with the mandate to regulate the movements of vehicles including fares.
Witnessing another event at the former location of the Health Ministry on the Capitol Bye-pass which resulted into a serious fist fight, our reporter explained that the passenger could not fathom why riding a kehkeh from Matadi Turning Point to the Bye-pass could suddenly change from L$70 to L$ 150 when the price of gasoline is still the same and therefore insisted on paying the original price but the driver resisted on grounds that the two passengers’ fares covered the one passenger that is last due to the covid restrictions.
While the driver remained resolute in collecting his money, the aggrieved passenger rolled up his sleeves for any eventuality stating, “before the coronavirus from Matadi to town we used to pay L$70 in kekeh with three passengers seated at the back and Ministry of Health reduced our three passengers to two and we were told to pay L$100 why are you charging L$ 150?”
Another aggrieved passenger, Sarah Marie Doe said, “We are fighting and we will fight to death because President George Weah does not know who to keep or employ in his government. What this Minister is still doing to Transport in these challenges? He does nothing but allow transport authorities to create untold hardship on the Liberian people.”
“Some Liberians are beginning to walk to town and return since the virus resurgence because they cannot afford the transportation fare. We are living in our country like foreigners. If we do not dismiss this Minister to bring in someone to make that ministry workable, we will lost more votes because of this,” she surmised.
“We believe that the former President, Ellen Johnson Sirelaf, left him with our President as a missionary to undermine the CDC-led Government,” Madam Doe criticized.
A female student who is also irritated due to hike in the transportation fares expressing her resentments indicated that if the President means well for the citizens, he should muster the courage to dismiss the Transport Minister Samuel Wlue.
“I am recommending his dismissal because what is the basis for the hike in the fare when a gallon of gasoline is still sold at L$600? Why is he not speaking and he is aware of these things. Many radio stations have reported this story of hike,” the uniformed student averred.
According to some of the aggrieved passengers, Minister Wlue is an agent planted by the immediate past regime to create hardship on the ordinary Liberians so that they can turn their backs on President George Weah, noting, “ It is time that Weah looks between the line to know who he employs in our government to enhance his work for his re-election bid in 2023.”