The continued shortage of gasoline is imposing hardship across Nimba and the country at large, making the prices of the most basic commodities to jump, due to the increase in the prices of petroleum products, especially gasoline.
The scarcity of gasoline is continuing day by day in the Ganta and surrounding towns and cities in Nimba County, with a gallon of gasoline still sold for L$2000 in Ganta, while outside of Ganta the prices are vary, ranging from L$2000 to L$3000 per gallon.
Currently, the cost of transportation has gone up across Nimba, leaving many travelers frustrated, questioning the government or the Ministry of Commerce as to why the price of gasoline continues to rise.
Recently, the TOTAL Filling Station was the only one in Ganta that was open to the public, selling gasoline for L$650, while the rest of the filling stations and other vendors have been selling a gallon for more than L$ 1000. But Total has stopped selling gas since last week, posing another serious challenge to the movement goods and services across the county.
The transportation fare from Ganta to Monrovia has jumped from L$1000 to L$1700, while at the same time around Ganta, fares via motorcycle have drastically increased.
“Motorcyclists are charging us L$250 from Ganta main street to Hope Village, which is about 1.5km,” said a petty trader.
“If we are charged high fares, then we, too, will have to increase our prices before we sell to prevent drastic losses,” she added.
The prices of local commodities and other goods are increasing out of control, with everybody left to their own devices.
There was high expectation from the public that President George Weah’s Armed Forces Day address on Tuesday, February 11, would have said something about the economic crises and the emerging high cost of gasoline; but nothing was heard, to the dissatisfaction of many.
Presently, the US dollar rate has gone up again to L$200 from L$190 recently, something that has an impact on the transportation fares and the prices of basic commodities. With the increase in the price of gasoline, motorcyclists are blaming the local Commerce Authorities for not doing enough to prosecute informal gasoline vendors who are hiking the prices.
“There is enough gasoline in most of the storage facilities in Ganta, but filling station owners are pretending as though there is no gas, so as to make profit,” said one James G. G. Flomo, a motorcyclist.
“We cannot buy a gallon L$2000 and run our bikes on charity,” he said.
On the bulletin board of the Aminata Gas Station, the price for one gallon is L$658, but the gas is nowhere to be sold. This has caused many residents to develop suspicion that the station and petty traders have reached a deal to take the gas over night and sell for high price, a hunch that could not independently confirmed.
Since the visit of the Commerce Regional Inspector, John Kouh, to Ganta late last month, where several drums filled of gasoline were seized from those who were caught hiking prices, no commerce officers have taken action to curtail the hiking.
But, the commodity price continues to rise, causing many to blame the local commerce authority for not doing enough to prosecute those who are always hiking prices.
In early February several tankers filled with gasoline were seen offloading in several of the gasoline stations around Ganta, but what happened that the price cannot stop being increased is leaving citizens rather confused about the state of affairs concerning the commodity.
Some of the gas stations, where gas tankers offloaded last week are also selling gas L$1700 per gallon, when it is believed that there is enough gas in their storage facilities.
Nearly all the local gas dealers or vendors are complaining of the difficulties they encountered in getting from gasoline from the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), where they ended up without any supply of gas at all.