Liberia: Why Is Gasoline Price Still High?

opinion

Despite assurances by LPRC of adequate supply, vendors reveal a different experience

The price of gasoline continues to fluctuate in the commercial city of Ganta, despite the government's insistence that there is no gas shortage in the country. Meanwhile, petroleum vendors tell the Daily Observer that there is indeed a shortage and the only way to get product supply is through bribes at the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC).

Nearly all the local filling stations are still selling a gallon of gasoline for L$1,000 in Ganta, while in other cities, including Saclepea, Bahn, Tappita and even Sanniquellie the price is around L$ 1,200 and above.

The price of gasoline took a sudden spike from L$680 on the morning of Monday, January 20, to L$1,000 the following day, resulting in a corresponding increase in cost of transportation fares to various destinations.

Some of the filling stations across Ganta, including "God Willing, Ma Queen and NP have on their price bulletin L$1,000 for a gallon of gas, but the price of diesel has remained stable.

The high price of gas prompted the local office of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, headed by Nelson Korquoi to cite the vendors on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 to inquire the reason for the increment, but what came out of the meeting is yet to be known.

Meanwhile price hike persists.

The motorcyclists express frustration over the sharp rise in the price of gasoline, an unexplained problem they now attribute to exploitation by vendors, blaming the government for not taking any action.

"We are not running our bikes to purchase gasoline, we need profit to support our families," a motorcyclist lamented.

The sharp increase in the price of petroleum products is the first of its kind since 15 years in Ganta.

During the raining season and when the roads are deplorable, gasoline can sometimes be sold L$1,000 in remote areas, far from Ganta, but for the commodity price to be high in Ganta is baffling to many travelers.

When contacted, some of the vendors said they increased their gas price because of the increment in Monrovia.

"We don't even have much gas so we increased the price of the little we have because of what is happening in Monrovia," said one of the gas sellers at NP Gas Station.

Another vendor told the Daily Observer via mobile phone from Monrovia that the cost of a gallon at LPRC is about US$2.80, but the process of getting his tanker loaded, after purchasing the gas, is very tedious until one has to pay bribes to the tune of US$500 per tanker to the LPRC Marketing Office before your process can be fast-tracked or expedited.

The bribery allegation could not be independently verified up press time. However, the vendor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, observed that there might be a real shortage of petroleum products in the storage facilities at LPRC, but the government is managing it by serving fewer tankers per day, so as to buy time until the supply vessel can arrive.

The gasoline price increase is has created shocks in the economy, with ripple effects felt in the rising prices of other local commodities, due to the high cost of transportation of those commodities.

"The hard time is speedily engulfing the nation and the government appears to be doing nothing to stop or curtail it," said an angry mother of four.

"Some of these local government authorities responsible for price control need to be changed, because they are suspected of siding with business people to exploit the citizens," said Annie O. Flomo.

"Since the CDC led government came to power over two years ago, prices have not yet been regulated, despite it being called a 'Pro-poor Government'," an elderly man observed. "Everyday we see Commerce Inspectors on the field pretending to be inspecting or regulating prices," he added.

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