Last week, PATEL announced a seven-day shutdown of all business centers in Monrovia in demand of reduction in ECOWAS common tariff, custom duties in United States Dollar and many others.
During a tour of the various commercial districts in Monrovia, business owners and marketers ignored PATEL’s protest and conducted their normal businesses, while few Fulas shops were closed at the Waterside commercial area.
Many of the Lebanese business people told this paper that they are losing profits on goods brought into the country due to the hard economic condition. So, they see no reason to close down their stores in demand of tariff reduction.
A Lebanese national who decided not be named said they will not submit to pressure group demand in the country and allow their businesses to stall.
He said few months ago, PATEL caused serious loses for them, noting “we will not entertain anymore protest from PATEL”.
Another woman identified as Ida Cooper described PATEL as a political pressure group that is working in the interest of a political party in the country and that the Chairman of PATEL, Presley Tenwah, is a member of a political party.
Several market women at the Waterside business center said while it is true that the high cost of custom duties, tariff, and the exchange rate are factors for rocketing prices of commodities on the Liberian market, but they do not believe that protest will help ordinary Liberians.
They called on PATEL leadership to continue to engage the Government in a peaceful manner rather than creating hardship and untold sufferings for the business people.
When contacted via mobile phone the Chairman of PATEL Presley Tenwah said currently he and his officials are engaging relevant Government Ministries and agencies on the seven days demonstration.
When questioned whether his PATEL is an organ of a political party, Tenwah said the allegation is “too myopic”, therefore, he will not comment. He however said it was not wrong if he supports any political party in the country.
He said their action is not about a political party, but is intended to remove the hardship the business community endures at the Freeport of Monrovia in clearing their containers and goods.