Monrovia — The scarcity of gasoline at several filling stations in Monrovia is raising concern over the availability of the petroleum product on the Liberian market.
This is also impacting the price of gasoline across the country, leaving consumers to queue at filling stations where gasoline is available.
However, the Senior Public Relations Officer at the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Corporation (LPRC) has refuted news of the suspected gasoline shortage in the country.
Gbanay Roberts said two vessels of petroleum are dock at the Free Port of Monrovia, which he said amounts to four million gallons.
He said there's currently over 10,000 metric tons of gasoline on the market, which suggests that there is no scarcity of the product.
"We don't know the reason why people would want to hold the product," he said.
"In every economy there are unscrupulous people that want to maximize profits."
The apparent artificial scarcity being created by some retailers is generating grave concerns from many consumers and at the same time impacting the price.
A gallon of gasoline in Monrovia and its environs is now sold between LD$450.00 and LD$550.00, while in Kakata, Margibi County, a gallon was sold for LD$800.00 on Tuesday, March 6.
Consequently, the transportation fare has gone up high with most taxicab and transport buses blaming the situation on the increase in the price of the product much to the dismay of commuters.
For instance, taxi fare from Red Light to Broad Street is now between LD$140 to LD$150, and transportation fare from Monrovia to Kakata has increased from LD$150 to LD$200.
Some filling stations of major petroleum retailers including TOTAL and Aminata have closed to the public, leaving the few stations with gasoline packed with dozens of cars.
"Our station here has not been selling gasoline of late; only diesel. Our bosses told us that we will get supply soon."
"I can't really tell you the reason why we are not getting supply, but what I know is not every Aminata filling station is out of gasoline."
"When customers come, we refer them to our other stations that have gasoline," a pump attendant at an Aminata Filling Station, requesting anonymity, explained to FPA
The Liberia Petroleum (LP) Station at VAMOMA Junction, one of the few stations along the Tubman Boulevard with gasoline, was very busiest on Wednesday March 7, when dozens of vehicles lined to purchase gasoline.
"We have been busy all day. Most of the filling stations around us are out of gasoline."
"Our price remains the same and we have not run out of product," a sales agent told FPA.
Meanwhile, several residents across Monrovia and its environs have expressed frustration over the hick in the price of the gasoline and called on the government to intervene as they continue to feel the pinch of the situation.
"This is insane. We can't continue to live in a country as though there is no law and order. I believe there are people responsible for this."
"And just as the Commerce Ministry punished the other people (Fuani Brothers), that's how they should investigate and fine those that responsible for this act," said an angry Alex Harris, a resident of Wroto Town, Sinkor.
"Isaac Yeanee, a motorcyclist added: "The traffic is hard on us because gas price has gone up high. To get something at the end of the day, we must increase the fare. And when we do that, our customers will not understand and will often fuss with us."
Recently, the Ministry of Commerce levied a hefty fine of US$25,000.00 for unilaterally hiking the price of eggs on the Liberian market.
Liberia's new Commerce Minister, Prof. Wilson Tarpeh said the fine should serve as a warning to other businesses that the government will not tolerate bad business practice.
Meanwhile, the LPRC says it is committed to working with the Ministry of Commerce to intervene.