Sharp increase in the price of gasoline is said to be raising concern among motorcyclists and ordinary citizens in Ganta.
A gallon of gas that was sold for L$440 on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 in Ganta suddenly spiked on Friday, May 14, 2020 to L$600 with no prior notice.
The sharp increase in gasoline price has also ripple effect on the cost of motorcycle transportation in and around Nimba, creating another tension among the citizens amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has had its own shocks on the Liberian economy.
Motorcyclists have expressed frustration over the recent jump in the price of gas, blaming the petrol dealers in Ganta of deliberately increasing the prices to exploit the public and create tension on the citizens.
Valarie Harris, a motorcyclist said, “we just bought a gallon of gas L$440 on Wednesday, May 13 in Ganta then suddenly the price jumped to L$600 and L$640 for gallon at nearly all the leading stations and street vendors.
“This is not fair, prices do not jump like that, they go up gradually, just the same way it comes down,” Joe Flomo, another motorcyclist explained.
The local petrol stations in Ganta are selling gasoline in the range of L$580 to L$640. The Total filling station has on its billboard L$640 per gallon; Super Petroleum (SP) is selling a gallon for L$580, while Ma Queen Filling Station has is selling at L$600 per gallon.
Other filling stations, including Jungle Water and God Willing, were also selling gas for L$600, respectively.
Prior to the increase in the price of gasoline, the proprietor of Ma Queen Filling Stations, D. Adonis Menlor, told reporters recently that the drop in the price of gas was undermining their business and might likely kick some of them out of business.
He said, they early bought huge quantities of gasoline from dealers in Monrovia and paid US$320 for storage and, while they were selling, the price began to fall drastically as low as US$173 from the dealers, where they were compelled to drop price to L$440, recently.
“We were selling at loss,” he said, “because we bought the gasoline at a high price and were selling at a low price which, if nothing was done from the government in the form of bail us out, some of our businesses would be on the verge of collapse.”
Menlor was among some of the dealers whose storage facilities were searched by Commerce Authorities for hoarding in February this year, when there was shortage of gasoline in the market. However, in his recent interview with reporters, he said they increased the price based on how they purchase the product from the dealers in Monrovia.
“When we buy gas with high price in Monrovia, we will sell it with high price here,” he said at a press conference in Ganta on Monday, May 11.
“Now we are buying for US$1.73 per gallon, so we will sell a gallon for L$440, but if the price goes up, we will certainly go up,” he said.
But, less than 72 hours after that interview, gas price jumped to L$600 and L$640, respectively to the dismay of the citizens.
Even though, people are not standing on line as it used be in February and March, but the sharp increase is likely to further climb up in the coming days and later lead to shortage.
Some of the business people believed that there is no shortage of gas in Liberia, but this one appears as though gas sellers may have asked the Commerce authority in Ganta to give blind eye to sell gas at high cost.
“We don’t believe there is a shortage in Liberia,” said an elderly man. “This can sometimes be a trick in connection with local authority to exploit the poor people.”
When contacted, the Commerce Inspector Alphonso Miamen’s phone rang without answer, but his deputy, Billy Flehn, confirmed the increase and said they will find out the price in Monrovia before taking action.