The Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), has taken some tough measures in order to nip from its bud the artificial shortage of petroleum products on the Liberian market in Monrovia and its environs.
According to a press release from the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company signed by the company's Managing Director T. Nelson Williams, the LPRC will not hesitate to withdraw the operational licenses of unscrupulous petroleum distributors and dealers in the country found involved in the unwholesome act.
The press release further stated that management is strongly urging all importers and distributors to desist from any act of economic sabotage that could undermine the stability of the Liberian nation and people. “Any importer or distributor engaged in hoarding or any other act that may negatively impact the constant and continuous flow of petroleum products to the people of Liberia will have their importer or distributor license immediately terminated”, the release stated.
The release further allayed fears of a possible petroleum shortage by informing the general public that the selling price for a gallon of petrol is now US$4.23 or its equivalent of LD$310, fuel oil is currently US$4.51 per gallon which is LD$325. “Any petrol station or distributor selling above the approved market price will be prosecuted. The management of LPRC is calling on the public to report any violation of hoarding to create artificial shortage and price increase. To report violators, you may call 0777901901” the release stated.
The LPRC release further indicated that in the light of concerns raised by the public about the alleged shortage of petroleum products on the market, the LPRC Board convened an emergency session meeting on the 12th December, during which the Board was briefed by the management about the need for continuous and consistent supply of petroleum to distributors and retailers for sale to the public, and informing the board that last week alone a total of 550,000 gallons of petrol was supplied on the Liberian market.
The LPRC management told the Board that this amount of petrol was sufficient to avoid any shortage, which means the apparent shortage that has created public outcry is purely artificial, malicious and intentional and a profit making scheme done by some unscrupulous business people, so as to get rich over the holiday period, at the expense of the Liberian people.
In a similar tough measure, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry sent out a press release yesterday signed by Hon. Axel M. Addy, the Acting Commerce Minister in which the Minister sent clear warning to businesses engaged in the negative practices of hoarding petroleum products that they will be doing so at their own risk, as they will be subject to the full extent of the law.
The Commerce Ministry release re-echoed the assurance that the LPRC will continue to supply the market and supply levels will not be expected to diminish given the arrival of two vessels on Wednesday, December 12, 2012.and today Friday December 14, 2012.with a total supply of 3,500 metric tons or 1.2 million gallons of petroleum in the market. The Ministry encourages the public to report all violators at: 0880702865 or 0777605075.
In a similar development, the security section of the LPRC has set up a Special Task Force on the illegal sale of Petroleum Products in Monrovia and its environs with the mandate to inspect compliance to price and availability of petrol in all filling stations in and around Monrovia.
According to their Report signed by Colonel Emmanuel C. Johnson, the security manager at the LPRC that has been submitted to the LPRC Managing Director, on December 12th, the team of the task force includes personnel from the LPRC security section, Operations Department of the Commerce Ministry and the Liberia National Police (LNP).
The release said during their inspections, the Task Force divided Monrovia into three zones, namely: Central Monrovia, Bushrod Island and Gardnersville to Paynesville.
In Central Monrovia when visited, the Aminata Gas Station on Benson Street was observed to be selling their products at the standard price especially PMS and Ago, At the Total station on Benson street it was discovered that a large quantity of the products were discovered that were not put on sale, which is why the Commerce Ministry served on them a letter of invitation to explain why they are not selling the petroleum products.
The SP gas station on 12th street also had a large quantity of petrol that they refused to sell, so they too were invited by Commerce Ministry for questioning; similar refusal to sell a large quantity of petrol was discovered at the Bassa Buchanan gas station on Bushrod island, the SP gas station on Jamaica Road was also served a letter for refusing to sell, Tweh Farm gas station was booked for keeping 270 gallons of petrol, the Ultimate gas station was selling at the price of LD$335 per gallon, and so charged by the Commerce Ministry for economic sabotage.
On the Freeport to Paynesville Road, Prophet gas station was caught selling at LD$400 per gallon, so the pump head of the gas station was taken to the nearest Police station, the sales manager insulted and attacked the crew of the Task force. At the C. Omaru gas station 500 gallons of gasoline were discovered not on the market son were served invitation letter and the same goes for SP Filling station at Battery factory which refused to sell 400 gallons of petroleum products. Makeshift Gas station was selling petrol at LD$390 per gallon so the pump head was seized and taken to the nearest police station.