Hoarding or Shortage? Gasoline Becomes Scarce in Liberia’s Capital as Some Vendors Double Price Per Gallon

TOTAL and SP Filling Stations were the only vendors who sold at regular pump price as other vendors closed to the public while the those selling along the sidewalk doubled the price per gallon

MONROVIA – Monrovia was hit by a seemingly shortage of gasoline on Tuesday as many filling stations began rationing their products while others closed to the public with the notice “NO GAS”.

It is not clear what led to the sudden ‘shortage’ but FrontPageAfrica gathered from sources that dealers of petroleum products were intentionally hoarding the product to the government’s intent to increase tariff.

The Government of Liberia set price for gasoline is US$3.21 while fuel is being sold US$3.80 per gallon. Commuters and Liberians have said to be already accustomed with prices of the products, but what is shaken to gasoline consumers is the speedy increase or the hike in the price of gasoline on the market.

The sudden shortage created a sudden hike in the price of gasoline, especially with those in sell along the sidewalks (can boys).

Gasoline was sold at some places for as much as L$1,200 instead of the regular L$650 per gallon.

This also led to the sudden increase in transportation fares. Taxi drivers doubled their fair as well.

Residents of Paynesville who usually paid L$150 for a ride to Monrovia in a taxi were being charged up to L$300 for the same distance. 

Commercial Motorcyclists also flooded TOTAL filling stations in search of gasoline

Only TOTAL, SP Supplied

“We are here to get gas from TOTAL because they are the only ones still selling the gas to us at the normal prices; all the other places I went gasoline price has increased two times the normal price.”

– Sylvester Budoo, Taxi Driver

Various TOTAL and SP filling stations were overwhelmed with vehicles including keh-keh in search of gasoline.

“We are here to get gas from TOTAL because they are the only ones still selling the gas to us at the normal prices; all the other places I went gasoline price has increased two times the normal price,” a taxi driver, Sylvester Budoo explained to FrontPageAfrica.

A businesswoman, Marie George, residing in Bong County could not hold her peace as she was sweating in a congested vehicle that was parked in the queue to get gasoline to pick up for Bong County.

Marie claimed to be overcharged by the driver on ground that there was a shortage and the product is expensive.

 “Can you imagine the driver charged me LD$1400 to go Gbanga while I used to pay around LD$700, only to tell me that gasoline is being sold twice its normal price? That is complete stealing, see how we are jammed up in this car and here he is in line for more than 30 minutes just to buy gas for LD$605 after taking our money in the name of hike in gas prices,” she lamented.

For his part, the taxi driver James Cain said he had earlier bought gas LD$1200 per gallon before taking passengers, saying, it was based on that he (taxi driver) charged his passengers the said amount. “I am only taking advantage of this opportunity to add my gas up because I bought gas expensive first before I took passengers to let the lady try and leave me alone and go to her government that doesn’t have price control,” he said.

As the news of the shortage spread, gas prices in Paynesville and Monrovia soared at the discretion of the seller.

LPRC: There’s Sufficient Gas 

The Management of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 in a statement said there is a sufficient quantity of fuel supply in the country to meet the domestic need. 

“This assurance 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 & Industry 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,” the statement reads.  

The LPRC also requests 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 the 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 statement cautioned.