By: Varney Dukuly
MONROVIA: Transport Minister, Samuel Wlue, has voiced out that he is not formally aware that transportation fares in Monrovia and other parts of the country have been increased as a result of the increase in the prices of petroleum products in the country.
Minister Wlue, however, said drivers who may be involved in the increment of transport fares are doing so in gross violation of the law and in contrary to previously instituted transport fares by the Ministry of Transport.
The Transport Minister’s made these assertions on OK FM in Monrovia this week.
Recently, the Minister of Information, Ledgerhood J. Rennie, disclosed that the Government is planning to come up with a new transportation fare in the next two weeks due to the increment in gasoline prices.
Minister Wlue described drivers who may be hiking transport prices as “unscrupulous individuals.”
“There is existing fares. Because of gasoline price increment, that does not mean that transportation fares should be increased,” he noted.
According to him, “in as much the government has not announced a new transport price structures, the previous transportation fares remain constant and effective.”
Minister Wlue: “There are drivers and there are people who are violating for their own benefit. The police and all other people concerned are doing everything possible to ensure that these things are stopped.”
The Transport Minister maintains that increase in gasoline prices are not the source of transportation increment.
Asked if he is aware of drivers hiking prices in the traffic, Minister Wlue said he is not aware because no survey has ever informed him about the drivers’ actions.
He did not say when similar survey had ever been conducted by the Transport Ministry under his administration as a Minister.
Interestingly, the Transport Minister also intimated that he is not aware of Information Minister’s recent statement on state radio, regarding plans by government to introduce new transport fares due to increase in the prices of petroleum products.
However, The ‘Investigative’ INDEPENDENT has observed that many citizens continue to complain as a result of the apparent hikes in the prices of transport fares in Monrovia and other parts of the country.
In some instances, commercial drivers and passengers engage in fist-fights due to disagreement arising from “exorbitant” fares often charged by drivers.
“I do not understand what Minister Wlue means when he said, he is not aware of the high transportation fares passengers are being made by commercial drivers to pay as a result of the increment of petroleum prices on the local market. Has his Ministry ever punished any drivers in recent times for hiking transport fares?” asked a 30-year old mother of two in Center Monrovia.
“I think Minister Wlue needs to rethink his position and act decisively”, said Mary Saywon, a student of the University of Liberia, in a brief chart with this reporter in Paynesville.
The skyrocketing prices of petroleum products on the local market is severely impacting ordinary people including students, healthcare workers, among others on a daily basis.
Some citizens, in response blasted the Transport Minister, terming his statement as being grossly insensitive to the plights of the ordinary people.
They mentioned that it is unfortunate for the Transport Minister to state that he is not aware of transportation price hike. They indicate his comments demonstrate that the government is careless about the welfare of its citizens.
Sam Baker, a resident of Caldwell, explained that his expenditure on transportation daily from and to work has increased drastically.
“My brother, can you imagine, I am paying LD$250 from ELWA junction to Central Monrovia; it was never like this, I use to pay LD$150 initially.”
Another citizen, who identified himself as Abraham Sumo told this Paper that it is unfortunate to hear from the Transport Minister that he is not aware of the biting hikes in transport fares across the country.
He accused the Transport Minister of being one of those “heartless public officials” who are helping to undermine the legacy of President George Weah, and at the same time posing danger to the president’s expressed reelection bid.