Returned Mail Distribution Causes Anxiety, Frustration Among Monrovia Residents

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted July 18, 2002

KLM Dutch Airlines and Ghana Airways have made good on their recent threats to return unforwarded mails and parcels kept in Ghana for the last two months to their Liberian senders in Monrovia if the Liberian government of President Charles Taylor did not pay-off carrier fee arrears to the two airlines totaling some $306,000. Reports from Monrovia say the Liberian Postal Service begun collecting receipts from original senders of parcels and registered letters to them, but it was not clear how persons who mailed unregistered letters or parcels will get their back.

The reports say Monrovia residents, already faced with daily hardships of high unemployment, inflated prices of goods and services, poor housing and sanitation, a state of emergency, and abysmal living conditions could hardly contain their anxieties and frustrations while picking up their mails at the Postal Ministry, as their immediate hopes for receiving help from friends and relatives abroad were squashed by the returned mails.

Recently, the Universal Postal Union, the Pan African Postal Union as well as carriers such as Ghana Airways and KLM Dutch Airline, placed an embargo on mails pick-ups in and dropouts to Liberia as a direct result of the Liberian government's inability to meet its financial obligations to those bodies and the two airliners.

It is not clear what Liberia's outstanding arrears are to the two international postal organizations and the airliners, but it is said that Liberia's current arrears to KLM alone total some $250,000 in carrier fees, and over $50,000 to Ghana Airways. And, as a result, KLM has instructed Ghana Airways not to pick up mails on its behalf from Monrovia during Ghana Airways' weekly flight to Liberia. The two carriers also threatened to return mails and parcels picked up from Liberia in the last two months back to Monrovia if the carrier fees were not paid.

In the wake of the returned mail redistribution, Liberian Posts and Telecommunications Minister Miwaseh Pay-Bayee said he extended his regrets to the Liberian public, and assured that every effort will be made to resolve the situation, though his immediate solution was his announcement that he would seek the blessing of President Taylor to travel to Ghana and confer with leaders there to lift the mail embargo on Liberia. The Minister did not however state when normal mail delivery and pick up in Liberia will resume, nor when Liberia will pay its outstanding arrears to the international postal bodies and the two airlines.

Meanwhile, the crackdown on alleged supporters of LURD continues. According to sources in Monrovia, Col. Sirleaf of the Liberian National Police force was picked up yesterday by security agents for allegedly being a dissidents’ supporter. On June 24, 2002, Taylor's security agents arrested Hassan Bility, Ansumana Kamara and Mohammed Kamara for allegedly plotting via e-mails to assassinate President Charles Taylor. The three men, in addition to Mabutu Kromah, are still languishing in prison. Just a few days ago, Suku Wesseh was picked up by security agents and has not been seen since then.

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