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Fuel scarcity hits Freetown again!

…but Petroleum Agency says 8,000 metric tons of petrol expected soon

August 12, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie 

If frenetic scenes and long queues at fuel stations across Freetown were anything to by yesterday, then the capital’s two million residents should be bracing themselves up for yet another fuel shortage.

The desperate faces at various fuel stations across Freetown indicate that the capital has once again run short on petrol, thus hampering the movement of vehicles and goods across the country, which observers say started forming since Sunday, 8 August.

As a result of the apparent fuel scarcity in the capital, there was a paucity of commercial vehicles plying Freetown’s busy roads yesterday, especially in the east of the city, causing workers to pay extra fares in order to get to their work places.

“I used to pay Le2, 000 to go to my office in the morning, but today I had to pay Le5,000 so that I will not be late,” Fatmata Kargbo, a volunteer at the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH) said.

Although the development means some commercial mini-bus, locally known as poda-poda, motorbike (Okada) riders are having a field day charging commuters exorbitant fares, they and business owners interviewed by Concord Times expressed frustration at the situation.

 “I have been running from one gas station to another in search of petrol for my vehicle since Sunday; and it is only this morning that I manage to purchase few liters. It will be hard for us if the situation continues without any solution by government,” Osman Kargbo, a taxi driver lamented.

Executive Chairman of the Petroleum Regulatory Agency, Dan Mason, admitted there was a shortage of petrol, but that other petroleum products were readily available for sale.

Mason said the shortage of petrol was due to delay in the arrival of 8,000 metric tons of petrol from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, which they were expecting to have arrived on Monday (August 10).

“It is true that we have a shortage of petrol but it is going to be temporal. We were expecting 8,000 metric tons of petrol from Abidjan on Monday which never materialised. Hopefully, we are now expecting the ship to be here either Thursday or Friday. Let me make it clear that there is no shortage in other petroleum products,” he said.

In January this year, oil marketers announced a minimal reduction in the pump price of petrol, diesel and kerosene from Le 4,500 to Le3, 750 per liter, despite a reported significant fall in the global price of crude oil last year.

Motorists and commuters have thus expressed apprehension that the pump price could be increased if the situation is not brought under control as soon as possible.

Eye witnesses told Concord Times that operatives, believed to have come from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, stormed some fuel stations yesterday morning and forced dealers to sell to waiting vehicles.

Meanwhile, there has been no official statement yet from the government. Efforts to get a spokesman for the government to react to the seeming fuel crisis were unsuccessful.