Liberia: Inter-Religious Council Says Gasoline Shortage Escalates Hardship

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IRCL President Rev. Kortu K. Brown

Monrovia – The Inter-religious Council of Liberia (IRCL) says the shortage of gasoline in the country is exacerbating the already impoverished condition of the vast majority of ordinary Liberians.

The Council, through its President Rev. Kortu K. Brown, said the socio-economic conditions of Liberians have been greatly affected by the ongoing gasoline shortage.

He added that standing in long queues for several hours, hike in transportation fares and increment in prices of basic commodities are the by-products of the gasoline shortage.

He made these comments on Wednesday, in an exclusive interview with FrontPage Africa at his offices in Brewerville.

Rev. Brown said although the IRCL welcomes the establishment of a presidential taskforce to probe the situation, the government must ensure that punitive measures are taken against those responsible for the hardship citizens are enduring.

He said public confidence would be eroded in the governance process of the country if nothing is done to hold authorities accountable for the scarcity of gasoline in Liberia.

“It’s obvious that the unavailability of petroleum on the market is affecting other commodities. It will affect the cost of transportation; and the cost of transportation will also affect the cost of other commodities on the market. This is a serious issue; this issue has the propensity of affecting our socioeconomic life in a way that it could further exacerbate the economic hardship for ordinary Liberians who are already struggling and trying to live up to the challenge of economic hardship,” Bishop Brown said.

He said the current shortage of gasoline in the country exposes the “incompetence of key officials” and the entire government to be overhauled.

He noted that government should desist from promoting the culture of impunity in the current saga which has the proclivity of stirring up confusion.

 “We welcome the setting up of the presidential task force to be able to ascertain what went wrong at the LPRC storages… It is about time that this government stops giving people the impression that they cannot be held accountable for their actions. It is time for the government to be overhauled – people in the LPRC and Ministry of Commerce. 

“It’s obvious that the unavailability of petroleum on the market is affecting other commodities. It will affect the cost of transportation; and the cost of transportation will also affect the cost of other commodities on the market. This is a serious issue; this issue has the propensity of affecting our socioeconomic life in a way that it could further exacerbate the economic hardship for ordinary Liberians who are already struggling and trying to live up to the challenge of economic hardship.”

– Rev. Korto Brown

“This is about the happiness of the ordinary people and the peace of Liberia. This should be addressed without fear or favor. Whatsoever the investigation shows, some actions should be taken to be able to ensure that public confidence is not eroded. Government cannot afford to lose public confidence because it will be difficult for it to achieve what it supposed to do”.

Speaking further, Rev. Brown contended that Liberians have not been adequately informed by the relevant authorities responsible to remedy the gasoline crisis, adding that the public will continue to doubt or speculate if adequate information is not being disseminated or actions are not taken by government.

“Part of the problem has been getting the facts from those who are responsible within the agencies of government for these transactions so that people can know what exactly is happening and what is being done to be able to resolve the crisis. This has the capacity to affect every other fractions of our national life”.

Rev. Brown called on the Ministry of Commerce and the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company to take responsibility of the crisis, stressing that they should be held accountable for the current situation.

Despite the situation, Rev. Brown urged Liberians to remain calm and law-abiding, restraints and await the outcome of the presidential taskforce report.

“Government needs to be forthcoming on where we are and what is being done to resolve this crisis. We want to appeal to all Liberians to exercise restraint. Yes, we know that these are challenging and tempting times, but we should try as much as we can to be able to restraint ourselves to be able to maintain our peace and stability. And the government has a role to play on this”. 

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