As Reported News Of Rice Shortage Hits Liberia, Liberians Fearfully Recount Nightmare Of April 14, 1979
Amid the news of the scarcity of Liberia’s staple food, RICE on the Liberian market, many Liberians who called on a local radio station are recounting the nightmare of the famous April 14, 1979 rice riot.
On this day, the then Liberian Minister of Agriculture, Florence Chenoweth, proposed an increase in the subsidized price of rice from $22 per 100-pound bag to $26, the government under the administration of the late President William R. Tolbert called in troops to reinforce police units in the capital, a situation that turned bloody with the destruction of business houses.
Now with this latest news on the scarcity of Rice, Liberians who called on radio stations are urging the Liberian Government to quickly intervene in order to disallow any further situation which repeat the happenings of the April 14, 1979.
According to report, several major markets and retailers’ outlets within and around Monrovia showed the invisibility of the nation’s staple food in stock for sale to consumers.
Some retail traders at major markets and distributors of the product told reporter of a local daily (The FPA) that they had yet to restock after exhausting the stocks they had since three weeks.
Many store owners accused importers of refusing to sell rice to them for the past two weeks.
Mastapha Jalloh is the salesman at the A.J. Trading Enterprise, a store at the Rally Town Market in Monrovia. He said for two weeks, he has been to several importers to buy rice to sell but to no avail.
“When we go to the company, the people who are importing the rice, they tell us that they are not selling rice to us. It has been more than two weeks now,” Jalloh said.
He added: “The people say they do not want to sell their rice to us. We asked them what the problem is, they cannot tell us anything. We want the Commerce Ministry to intervene so as to avoid hoarding”.
“You see, my store is empty, no rice here, even when you check to the next store, no rice there, all the stores are empty, when we go to the importers we cannot get the rice. So, we do not know where the problem is coming from.”
“I cannot say whether the importers have the rice or not because they cannot allow us to go into their warehouses. Maybe rice there but we don’t know. So, the government should go there to know what is going on,” Jalloh added.
During the FPA tour, many business owners including Jalloh pointed fingers at the Ministry of Commerce, accusing the ministry for being responsible for the shortage of rice on the Liberian market.