Liberia may have its strength in carving or instituting good policies or regulations, but very weak in enforcing and monitoring most of such policies or regulations.
In recent years, public pronouncements and publications of these policies/regulations are made by the Government of Liberia, through designated public officials, but following up to ensure compliance continues to yield little impact or not at all.
Some times in 2014, the Ministries of Transport and Commerce and Industry, in collaboration, issued a policy, regulating the price system to include transport fares across the country in consonance with reduction in prices of petroleum products.
In view of the foregoing, commuters and passengers were challenged by the government to report violations, especially by commercial drivers – something efficiently adhered by many passengers on a daily basis, but with no redress or action by the concerned agencies.
Of late, “things have completely fallen apart” in the transport industry, with commercial drivers and others determining their own transport fares from one point to another, most especially in Monrovia and environs.
Often, there are instances of conflict between commercial drivers and passengers which sometimes result to violent clashes or exchange of invectives, while resolutions are probably to the mercy of the drivers through the interventions of other passengers.
Obviously the inability/failure of the Transport and Commerce Ministries to follow-up policies/regulations by monitoring and ensuring drastic measures, including those enshrined in such policies/regulations continues to negatively impact the socio-economic well-being of the public, considering the criminal, untrained and violent nature of some of the commercial drivers.
While there may be a very few commercial drivers who adhere to government-stipulated transport fares, others go far beyond – -sometimes almost two times such that had been released by the government to the disadvantage of passengers, especially during the early morning and evening hours each day. For example, if the government-stipulated fare from ‘ELWA Junction to Central Monrovia is L$45 – L$50.00, most commercial drivers would demand between L$70 to L$100.00; and it goes in such faction as the foregoing in every part of Monrovia and its environs without any concern or action by the concerned ministries.
Amid the current mounting tensions between passengers and commercial drivers, the intervention of all stakeholders, mainly the regulator(s) of the transport industry, has become a necessity. The need for them to rise from their slumbers with vigor to address the situation cannot be over-emphasized.
The Ministries of Transport and Commercial and Industry must be more proactive against the complacencies characterizing their duties and functions to intervene in such explosive situation.
In consonance with current prices of petroleum products, they ensure a price system, as well as ensure compliance by ensuring the necessary and practical monitoring mechanisms and actions to avoid any future embarrassment not only for passengers, but the government itself.
While the public heavily relies on the government, through these ministries, for whatever goals/objectives these policies/regulations have, it is incumbent on these public institutions to follow-up their execution/implementation, as well as adherence to the latter.