Despite overcoming gasoline shortages couple of weeks ago, the petroleum suppliers are again struggling to keep the gasoline flowing at the pumps consistent with consumer demand.
Though product was brought in the country a month ago with officials of government boasting that the shortage issue had been finally resolved, it seems that not the case anymore.
Currently around Montserrado County, mini gas stations are out of gas; thereby putting pressures on larger filling stations that are unable to meet public demand.
From the out skirts of Brewerville to the nation’s capital Monrovia, then to Paynesville City and the entire Montserrado country, vehicle operators and others have formed long, disorderly queues fighting to get few gallons of gasoline.
One area that the visibility of the shortage can be seen is at the Total service station at Rehab junction, along the Robertsfield highway, just a stone’s throw from President George Weah’s residence.
The current shortages, which began on March 15, comes at a time when the country confirmed its first coronavirus case which might soon begin affecting its struggling economy. The gasoline shortages will surely result in an increase in petrol prices above the official government rate; thereby forcing taxis and buses to begin hiking fares for passengers.
While Liberia has suffered frequent fuel shortages, the fast repetition of the situation has not been same before. With compounding economic difficulties, fuel scarcity means it is harder to move goods around the country.
“This is a scary and total embarrassment,” said Moses Gray, a taxi driver in Monrovia. “The government needs to act fast to avoid letting the situation to turn into a full-blown crisis. It hurts because we are in the midst of a potential coronavirus outbreak.”
“We cannot continue on the path like this,” said Peter Fayah, a Tricycle (keh-keh) driver, sitting in a fuel queue in Monrovia. In less than two months, we are experiencing another shortage, is unbelievable.”
In reaction to pending gasoline shortages, the Petroleum Importers Association of Liberia has denied reports of any shortages and any news about such thing is false.
“Members of the Petroleum Importers Association are pleased to inform the general public that there is more than enough product on the market and in storage facilities at Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company and Conex Petroleum storage terminal,” said T. Nelson Williams, II in a press statement on behalf of the association.
According to Mr Williams, there are enough petroleum products “to supply the Liberian market until the first week of April 2020.”
“In addition, several importers are bringing in 10,650,000 gallons of gasoline in the month of March 2020,” he said.
Although the importers have said there is enough gas in the country, this paper has observed from March 15 to present long queues at some of the leading filling stations across Montserrado County.
The Daily Observer also notices that almost of the mini-gas stations across the country are out of the product. Besides, the statement from the importers resembles a similar one issued by the government during the start of the previous gas crisis that there were enough products on the market, which proves not to be the case.