5 December 2017

Liberia: Hoarding of Petroleum Products Sparks Hike in Transport Fares

As of Wednesday, Nov. 29, several petroleum products service stations started hoarding gasoline and diesel fuel in many parts of Monrovia and Paynesville cities due increase of the commodity at the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC).

Several gas station owners told commercial and private vehicle owners in Paynesville and Monrovia that they should now be ready to buy a gallon gas for LD$500.

When contacted, some petroleum dealers at some gas stations denied ever hoarding the commodity and only noted that the Liberian Government should act swiftly to bring the embarrassing situation under control in Monrovia and its environs.

Commercial driver Abdullah Kromah, 45, told the Daily Observer in an interview that some gasoline dealers have shut down their service stations due to the sharp increase in the wholesale prices of petroleum products.

"I visited three gas stations early this morning (yesterday) and dealers of the products told they do not gas and diesel fuel in stock at the time," asserted.

He also insisted that his "inner spirit is not in the position" to increase transport fares on his passengers, workers and business people heading for Monrovia and its environs due to the sharp increase in the price of petroleum products in Monrovia.

Mr. Kromah also stressed the need for government to take practical steps and swiftly address the current escalation in the prices of petroleum products as Liberians are already encountering financial difficulties.

Interview with a retail dealer of gasoline at the old Telecom station in Paynesville, Matthew B. Hunk noted that he bought his petroleum products at a very high cost and will not sell same without making some profits.

On a tour of the Paynesville commercial district, several gas stations and retail sellers have allegedly hidden the petroleum products and started selling the commodity at very high prices.

As a result of such an action on the part of the wholesale and retail sellers, commercial drivers have begun to triple transport fares at the detriment of commuters, private sector workers and small business people in Monrovia and Paynesville.

Besides, yesterday, some gas stations along the route from Red-Light, Somalia Drive, Zayzay Community and Duport Road, as well as the route that leads to the Robert International Airport (RIA), had removed all the service pumps.

As of Monday morning, commercial drivers were charging commuters and business people from Red-Light Market to central Monrovia LD$150.00 instead of previous fare of LD$90.00.

Commuters at the ELWA Junction in Paynesville told the Daily Observer yesterday that commercial drivers were charging LD$90.00 and LD$100.00 and from Paynesville to Monrovia.

At Red-Light, Duport Road and ELWA Junction, several commuters and businessmen and women were seen stranded due to the sharp hike in transport fares and its corresponding effects on the movement of people and goods.

Some of the commuters and workers have sounded urgent appeals to the Ministries of Commerce and Transport to intervene in order to ease the difficulties at the hands of commercial drivers.

In a statement released on Sunday afternoon, the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) expressed concern about reports "being promulgated by some unscrupulous individuals that there is a shortage of petroleum products on the Liberian market.

"LPRC assures the general public not to panic as there is enough diesel and gasoline fuel in the country to meet the domestic needs," the statement added.

The LPRC said it would like to inform the public "that the information being propagated has no flavor of truth, and therefore wishes to make it clear that there is over 30,000 metric tons of mixed petroleum products in its shore tanks capable of sufficiently and adequately serving the Liberian Market for over two months.

"The management says while it may not know the actual intend of those spreading this level of falsehood, its management team is working along with the Ministry of Commerce & Industry to avert any attempt by filling stations or individuals to hoard petroleum products in order to create artificial shortage and a hike in the prices. The public is requested to report any individual/ filling station selling petroleum product above the approved pump price of US$ 3.25 or its Liberian dollar equivalent of LDR 400.00 for gasoline and US$3.31 or its Liberian dollar equivalent of LDR 410.00 for fuel oil," the LPRC statement said.

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