Govt. Sets Up Taskforce –To Probe Gasoline Crisis

The Government of Liberia has recognized the shortage of gasoline on the public and announced that it empathizes with the public for the difficulty the people have had to go through over the last couple of weeks in obtaining petroleum products from stations across the country.

“Due to the shortage of gasoline, in many instances, people are made to stand in long queues for several hours before getting served,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Information Culture & Tourism (MICAT) has said.

The MICAT statement considered the situation disturbing and noted that it cannot be allowed to continue. “As a result, the government has purchased emergency supplies which are due in the country within one week to alleviate the situation,” the Ministry of Information said.

The Ministry furthered that the government treats the constant availability and supply of petroleum and other essential commodities on the market with utmost importance.  “This is why President George M. Weah has constituted a special taskforce, headed by Honorable Trokon Kpui, Minister of State Without Portfolio, to investigate and establish what caused an estimated 60 percent discrepancy between importers’ inventory reports of products at the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) and actual stock of products at its petroleum storage facilities.”

According to the MICAT statement, the mandate of the taskforce mandate will cover the period between January 2017 and January 2020.

Besides, members of the taskforce include George D. Wolo – Ministry of Commerce; Peter D. Somah – Ministry of Commerce, Rufus G. Mahn – Liberia Revenue Authority; Augustine G. Chenoway – LRA, and Dominic K.L. Hina – Ministry of Finance & Development Planning

“At the end of their mission, the group is expected to give a detailed understanding of the LPRC petroleum storage process and determine importation dates, product quantity and lifting schedules with the view of ensuring corrective measures to prevent a recurrence of the present situation,” MICAT said in the statement.

Additionally, the Ministry of Commerce and the LPRC have been mandated by the government to work with importers to ensure that the limited stocks available are distributed properly.

While this is ongoing, the government is appealing to the general public for patience as it works to remedy the situation, the statement signed by Information Minister Eugene Lenn Nagbe concluded.

But the government’s position received public reaction some of which considered it “Pure wickedness.”

After all the back and forth, the official version of the government puts the scarcity of fuel on the market on the incompetence and negligence on the part of the management of NPA on the one hand and sheer stealing at the LPRC; this is disheartening, another reacted to the statement.

Other reactions from the social media blamed the short of petroleum on the market on the failure by the entity to dredge the Freeport of Monrovia which was meant to be done since August, 2019. This failure is said to have made it impossible for larger vessels bringing in fuel to berth thus causing cut in supply line to the importers.

At LPRC, it was stated that fuel entrusted in the hands of the management of LPRC by importers got stolen without trace thus far. It was reported that about 60% of the products was stolen, another public reaction said.

Normally it is in these kinds of situations that a serious government displays its patriotism and resolve to fight corruption, critics said, noting calling on Mr. President to please do the needful by firing those liable for the show of incompetence and negligence at NPA and disband the feeble probe panel investigating the thievery at LPRC.

“It is a criminal case, it should be turned over to the police, CID, NSA and other investigating agencies of the government. You can’t continue be shielding your friends while the nation is bleeding,” a comment from the social media said

For his part, the President of the Council of Churches (LCC) and leader of the Interfaith Mediation Council, Rev. Kortu Brown, commented on the gasoline shortage: We welcome the establishment of Taskforce set up last evening by Government of Liberia to investigate and establish cause of gasoline shortage at the LPRC storages.

As announced by MICAT, the taskforce is headed by Minister of State without Portfolio and includes other actors from Commerce, Finance and LPRC.

Hope inquiry is accelerated and meanwhile, serious emergency steps are taken to curtail the troubling long queues that are becoming the optics of our daily lives. Let God have mercy on Liberia!

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