Breaking New Ground in Liberia

by Pat Horn, StreetNet International Coordinator

In May 2018 a Strategising Meeting was held with 30 leaders of StreetNet’s Affiliate FEPTIWUL (Federation of Petty Traders & Informal Workers’ Unions of Liberia) in Monrovia and Paynesville with the objective of analysing the effectiveness of a previous MoU signed between NAPETUL (as FEPTIWUL was known in 2014) & MCC (Monrovia Municipal Corporation) between 2014 and 2016, and to take forward the process for entering into new MoUs with MCC and PCC (Paynesville City Corporation). 

One of the problems identified was capacity shortages on the part of government officials which make implementation difficult.  The Strategising Meeting therefore decided to organize joint training for FEPTIWUL leaders as well as the officials from the MCC, PCC and the other identified partners, in order to tackle this issue.

This was the first time that StreetNet has conducted a negotiations skills training course which includes both informal traders as well as authorities.  This pioneering effort was made possible by the improving relationship which has been developing between FEPTIWUL and government authorities through robust social dialogue.  The principal aims of the course were to analyse and evaluate the new MoU between FEPTIWUL and MCC, signed in September 2018 after robust negotiations, as well as:

  • How to negotiate successfully;
  • How to effectively implement agreements reached;
  • Establishment and maintenance of negotiations forums for effective social dialogue
  • Conceptualisation of a new informal economy policy for Greater Monrovia City.  The training took place in Monrovia from the 4th – 7th December 2018, attended by 30 FEPTIWUL leaders and 30 officials from different departments of MCC and PCC.

At the end, participants expressed satisfaction about having learnt more about each other, and having become more familiar with the MoU.  Authorities learnt about FEPTIWUL, its members and the contribution of petty traders to the informal economy, and FEPTIWUL members learnt more about the reliance of the authorities on the MoU to assist them in the collection of revenue resulting from peaceful regulation of petty trade on the streets.  Both parties agreed that the old methods of regulation by means of eviction and confiscation of goods is neither desirable nor sustainable.