The Ministry of Transport has warned commercial drivers to desist from hiking transportation fares beyond imagination to the disadvantage of commuters.
Making the disclosure at a joint press conference Monday August 18, 2014, Deputy Minister for Administration and Insurance J. Levi Demmah said such arbitrary increment in transportation fares has caused, and continues to cause, undue hardship on citizens.
The Deputy Minister added that while it is true that everyone must share the burden of fighting the spread of the Ebola virus, commercial drivers have to be cognizant of the effect of such increase in transportation fares.
"With the intensification of the spread of the virus across the Liberia and the Government of Liberia's subsequent position to prevent further spread of the disease and cut the reaction, the Ministry of transport issued Temporary Regulation No. 002/14", Deputy Minister Demmah said.
According to the Temporary Regulation No.002/14 issued, commercial, private and personal vehicles, including Sedan and buses, should carry one person in the front seat and three persons in the back seats,
He added that the regulation maintained that motorcycles should carry one passenger at a time, while tri-cycles should carry three passengers at a time.
"We also stressed that by the advice of health authorities, acutely ill persons were not to be conveyed, all of which are holding except hike in transportation fares", he maintained.
The /Deputy Minister for Administration and Insurance noted that prior to reaching the decision of Regulation 002/14, relative to the reduction of occupancy of passengers as mentioned earlier, sustained consultations were held with various stakeholders to include Federation of Road transport Union of Liberia, the Secretary General of the Motorcycle Unions, Independent Mano river Union of Liberia, the National transit authority, etc.
The Acting Minister of Commerce and Industry, Cyril Allen Jr., said inspectors from the ministry will collaborate with the Police to ensure that commercial drivers adhere to the regulations.
"The Ministry of Commerce and Industry will increase not only consultations with stakeholders, but will also increase awareness for good of the commuting public", he said.
The Acting minister used the occasion to inform commuters to make use of the Police cones located in selected areas to report any commercial drivers that may be in breach of the regulations.
The Secretary General of the Federation of road Transport Union of Liberia, Joe S. Willie, indicated that the union will closely work with commercial drivers to ensure adherence to the regulation. "We all can serve as enforcers," he assured.
He noted that the price of petroleum products and the stability of the exchange rate as factors that need to be considered in the enforcement process.
"Adhering to price structure for sanitary materials and the country's staple food will be upheld when everyone collectively achieves the goal", he said.
The Chief of Public Safety of the Liberia National Police, Nelson Freeman, pointed out that the Police will, as part of its statutory mandate, provide support to the process of enforcing the regulations.
According to the Regulations, commercial drivers are warned that anyone caught overcharging passengers outside of the stipulated approved fares will be penalized in accordance with the law.