The aggrieved Liberians and rights advocates, who spoke in a random interview with the Heritage and through different statements, called on the Government of Liberia (GoL) through the Ministry of Commerce to urgently address the growing hardships being exacerbated by the increment in the prices of the rice.
The aggrieved Liberians stated that lives are becoming more unbearable for them, as their daily, weekly and monthly earnings cannot cope with their growing pressing demands, especially in absence of a clear government’s position on the rice crisis.
“For me, this totally unbearable, the hardships are growing by day. We, the ordinary Liberians, are the ones feeling the effects of the increment in the prices of the rice. The government needs to come in urgently because we are going to bed on empty stomach and there is no clear or serious message from the government. The last time the President informed the nation that there is huge quantity of rice in stock but with not clear definition of this. The Ministry of Commerce has not given any clear statistics on the quantity that is in country and how long it is going to take us,” Jerry Flomo, a student of the state-run University of Liberia (UL), who lives in Paynesville City, outside Monrovia cried out
The comments by Student Wleh were buttressed by several students from other institutions of learning as well as some residents of Monrovia and its environs, who spoke with this paper as.
Desoe Tweah, a 69-year-old resident of the Soul Clinic Community, said the increment of rice is making living increasingly difficult for ordinary Liberians including him.
According to him, life is becoming more unbearable for him and his family who depend on his monthly wage for living.
Tweh and others want the government to address the issue at hand as a matter of urgency.
On the other hand, some marketers, who could not hold back their anger owing to what they referred to as the sufferings they are enduring because of the rice crisis, sounded similar message and called on the GoL to address the crisis, as it is having huge effects on their daily profits or else they will vent their anger in the ballot box in 2023 against President Weah’s reelection.
At the same time, the National Civil Society Council of Liberia(NCSCL) has called on the Liberian government to swiftly act before the situation goes out of hand as the issue of rice shortage has always had a daunting history on the country.
Accordingly, NCSCL in press release issued in Monrovia on Sunday, October 2, 2022, called on the Liberian government to act promptly in addressing the situation as many Liberians, who are living below the poverty line, are barely going to bed on empty stomach.
The council, which is the umbrella organization for all civil society organizations in the country, indicated that information that might have reached the President is far from the reality on grounds, and as such, there is an urgent need for fast and tangible government’s intervention to resolve the rice crisis.
“The National Civil Society Council of Liberia hereby calls on the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to quickly intervene into this rice crisis because this is our staple food. Our people are already suffering and increase in this commodity will cause more sufferings for our people. Information given to our President is far from the actual story,” added the press release.
Meanwhile, the rice situation has since caused serious panic as buyers including retailers and consumers spending longer times in queues at foreign warehouses/shops across the nation’s capital, Monrovia and its environs as well as in other parts of the country to be served.
At some points, buyers are being demanded to purchase another commodity before they are served.
As it stands, the price of a 25kb bag of rice has rose from US$13.00 to US$22.50 and US$25 respectively depending on the quality, thus causing increased economic difficulties for ordinary Liberians.
However, in the face of the continuing increase, President George Manneh Weah recently said he does not believe that there is rice shortage in his country, noting that the news of rice scarcity on the Liberian market is a street talk, but the reality on ground proves different.
President Weah, in a remark, following his return from the United States of America on September 26, 2022, where he gone to attend the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) said, "We need to not just listen to the street talks. So I listen to them (importers). Not those that just want to say anything they want to say. I don’t listen to them. I believe that there is rice, we need to verify again.”
But on the heel of the President’s assertions, evidence gathered shows that rice stock on the Liberian mark is low as hundreds of people are seen standing at major distributor sites including Fouani Brothers in Vai Town in long queues to secure rice supply.
Mr. Zoom Dosso, Public Relations Officer for the Rice Importers Association, has said that, “Rice is limited [in the country] because importers are bringing in new goods.”