— LPRC insists, as prices soar Ganta and possibly beyond
By David Yates and Ishmael Menkor
The Management of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) has notified the general public that there is a sufficient quantity of diesel and gasoline supply in the country to meet the domestic market demand.
This assurance, according to the LPRC statement, comes in the wake of unsubstantiated information that there is a shortage of petroleum products in the country.
The LPRC Management is working along with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) to avert any attempt by importers, distributors or retailers to hoard petroleum products in order to create artificial shortage and a hike in the prices.
It can be recalled that on Monday, the Daily Observer reliably learned that major distributors of petroleum products, particularly those dealing in gasoline, had shut down their facilities with signs placed at their filling stations stating, “no gas for now.”
However, the LPRC Management is requesting the public to report any importer, distributor or retailer selling petroleum products above the approved pump price of US$3.80 and US$3.21 for diesel and gasoline, respectively, or their Liberian dollars equivalent, using the Central Bank of Liberia exchange rate.
“Any importer, distributor, or retailer found hoarding or selling products above the stipulated price will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” the LPRC Management said in a statement.
Amid clarity by the LPRC and other relevant government agencies about the presence of petroleum products in the country, the price of gasoline has gone very high in the commercial hub of Ganta, leaving motorcyclists and other motorists to raised concern.
The price of gasoline abruptly jumped from L$680 late Monday evening to L$1,000 on Tuesday morning, causing a sharp increase in transportation fares for various destinations.
Most of the filling stations across Ganta have on the price bulletin L$1,000 for a gallon of gas, but the price of diesel was not mentioned.
“We are not running our bikes to purchase gasoline, we need profit to support our family,” said one Eric, a motorcyclist.
The motorcyclists express regret over the sharp rise in the price of gas, something they described as exploitation by vendors.
The sharp increase in the price of petroleum products is the first of its kind for over 10 years now
“We have not seen any price like this in Ganta since the cessation of hostilities almost 20 years now,” said an elderly man.
When contacted, some of the vendors said they increase their gas price because of the increase in Monrovia.
“We don’t even have gas, we increase the price of the little we have because it what happening in Monrovia,” said one of the gas sellers.
Another vendor told this paper via mobile phone that the cost of a gallon at LPRC is about US$ 2.80, but the process of getting your tanker loaded after purchasing is very tedious until you have to bribe with of US$500 per tanker to the LPRC Marketing Office before your process can be fast-tracked or speed up.
The vendor, who spoke on the condition anonymity observed some short of petroleum products at the storage facilities in LPRC, but the government is managing it by serving 10 tankers a day, so as to kill time until the vessel can arrive.
He even threatened to further increase his price in Ganta if he finds it hard to get his tankers loaded.
When contacted, the Commerce Authority in Ganta said there is no gas shortage, and therefore they will be citing filling stations that increase their gasoline price.
There is speculation that there is no shortage of gasoline in Ganta, but the shape increase is because of the increase also in Monrovia.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry was expected to issue a statement today on the cause of what appears to be an artificial shortage of gasoline. However, the Ministry has yet to deliberate on the matter.