LIBERIA: Mineral water price increases in Monrovia

…Citizens express Disappointment over Addition Hardship – By: WASH R&E “Media” Network – The price of a locally produced mineral water has sharply increased over the last few days in Monrovia, Liberia’s Capital.

A sack of a locally produced mineral water now sold for 100 Liberian dollars (a little over 1USd)

A sack of a locally produced mineral water now sold for 100 Liberian dollars (a little over 1USd)

A sack of water once sold for 55 Liberian dollars is now 100 Liberian dollars, while a little bag which was once sold for 5 Liberian dollars is now ten Liberian dollars or two bags for 15 Liberian dollars.

Some retailers have attributed the increment to the shortage of fuel on the Liberian Market, while others are blaming Mineral Water Companies for arbitrarily increasing the price.

An investigation conducted by the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia shows this hike in the price of locally produced mineral water is causing hardship for the already poverty-stricken population of post-conflict Liberia.

Most of the people complained: “we are really suffering because this situation has increased our hardship”.

Consumers now have to individually spend at least 30-50 Liberian dollars (almost half of a United States dollar) daily outside their homes to cool their thirst in the wake of the dry season which makes the demand for drinking water very high in the Capital and other parts of the country.

When contacted, most of the mineral water companies disclosed that though the shortage of fuel has contributed to the increment in the price, but heavily blamed the producers of the plastic bag in which the water is stored for hiking the price of plastic. Most of these plastic producers are said to be outside of the country.

View of Central Monrovia, Liberia’s Capital

View of Central Monrovia, Liberia’s Capital

WASH R&E was told by some students and civil servants that due to change in the price, many of them traveling to the Capital, Monrovia are faced with serious hardship as they now restrict themselves on the number of water bags they have to drink daily.

“We are disappointment over this situation” they expressed.

Other residents in and around the city expressed similar disappointment.

“Transportation to work or school is already a huge task, and where will every person get 30-50 Liberia dollars to drink while in town”, Michael Zuba and his friends wondered.

The residents told WASH R&E that they have to make some adjustments in the consumption of drinking water until they get to their respective homes.

Our investigation also uncovered that residents of Red Hill Field, a community outside Monrovia where one of the biggest mineral water companies is located “Aqua Life” went on strike action demanding the company to bring down the price of water in their community.

According to the residents, it should be the corporate and social responsibility of the company to provide safe drinking water for their community and not to increase the price of water.

The residents are requesting the company to reduce the price and provide bore holes where safe drinking water could be fetched.

According to the residents, the strike was intended to bring to the attention of the company the high demand for drinking water in their area.

But on the contrary, the Representative of District 13 in which Red Hill Field Community is located said there was no social contract signed between Aqua Life and the community binding the entity to the provision of safe drinking water.

Rep. William Darkel in an interview with a local radio station in Monrovia challenged residents to provide such document if any is available.

He urged the residents to liaise with the Management in discussing the price and the shortage of water in their community.

Many residents who listened to the interview said they were taken aback for their representative to make such a statement, terming it as insensitive.

They said his statement proved that he has no concern about their well-being especially during this critical water crisis in Monrovia.

During 2012, it can be remembered that Aqua Life dug a bore hole in Red Hill Field Community as a humanitarian gesture for the community.

Meanwhile, residents in and around Monrovia are calling on the government and water companies to do everything possible to ensure the reduction in the high price of locally produced water.

Despite efforts by government and development partners in providing safe drinking water in Liberia, many residents in the Capital and other parts of Liberia are still unable to access safe drinking water.

Hope something is urgently done to address the hike in the price of locally produced mineral water, before the situation runs out of control.