Fuel crisis: First headache for new trade minister

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By Yusufu S. Bangura

The newly approved Minister of Trade and Industry, Ibrahim Alpha Sesay, must be contemplating on how to handle the current domestic economic crises he has been greeted with after being approved by the Sierra Leone Parliament.

First, it was the hike in the price of onion which has been of major concern to several homes across the country and the fuel crisis which many believe will be followed by imminent price increase.

Yesterday, Tuesday, August 1st, hundreds of private and commercial cars, tricycle riders and commercial motorbike riders have to wait in long queues in major filling stations across Freetown to be able buy fuel.

People who spoke to Concord Times expressed fear that the shortage might lead to price increase, since it has become a pattern in the country.

They added that such development would add injury to an already battered economy.

Most of the commercial drivers say they couldn’t access fuel at filling stations unless through black market where it is very expensive.

Alie Conteh, a commercial motor bike rider, told Concord Times that he went to the filling station very early at about 11am unto 1:30pm, but couldn’t able to buy a single litre of fuel.

“As a bike rider, whenever there is fuel crisis, my family got starved because they depend on me. If I don’t access fuel to ply my trade, I will not be able to feed my family. The economy is in shambles and things are difficult for us,” he said.

Currently, the price of fuel stands at Le21, 500 (equivalent to 0.86 Dollar) per littre and it is being rumoured that the price will shoot up to L25,000 ( equivalent to 1 Dollar) per litre.

According to Conteh, passengers will surely bear the brunt should the prices of petroleum products shoot up.

 “I am calling on the authorities concern to look into this issue because most of us engaged in this business are youth and we don’t have any other job to do. We want them to please come out and advocate for us to have fuel so that we can take good care of our families. If there is no fuel in the country everyone will suffer,” he called.

For Lansana Jalloh, a tricycle rider, he just resigned getting fuel from the black market because, according to him, he couldn’t withstand the hustle to access same at the filling station where drivers, both private and commercial were fighting for the product.

“I have to pay my boss Nle 80.00 every day. I also have to eat and maintain the bike, change oil, so I have to do all these things. If we have this fuel crisis, it will affect us,” he lamented.

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