Sinking In The Gallons

-The ‘Gas War’ Keeps Bruising Gov’t’s Capacity To Cope; Reflection Of Deep-seated Incompetence

The current shortage of gas on the Liberian market  seems to be taking the country into a different direction, according to several citizens.

Like the most controversial looming “missing LD16bn.” saga attended by several incohesive and deeply questionable statements from as many government’s functionaries; the intolerable and now depressing gas crunch devastating the entire society. This is unleashing grave embarrassment to free movement of commuters,  that has led also to  whitewashed with falsehood and unreliable explanations from legitimate official quarters.

According to a frustrated commercial driver, Mr. Jacob Paygar, the manner and form in which government mismanaged the dissemination of most needed information about the acute status of the gas crisis has left the people to revisit the high level of confidence they have had in the current leadership

Paygar also noted that the fashion in which the gas fiasco has disrupted the smooth flow of goods and services and painfully stalling the consignment of fresh farm products from the leeward counties that are unable to see the light of the various marketsin the city centers is equally so a sad store and heart breaking, needless to voice out the immense loss incurred by the cross-country venders and their business partners.

Notwithstanding, pundits have scolded the flat-footed position of the government in the face of the pathetic gas obstacle and described the administration of sinking in the gallons as its image and capacity coupled with its ability to cope continue to reflect deep-seated incompetence.

When the heat started simmering, all the high profile government officials strategically armed with the authorities to succinctly give out the most needed information to the public rather elected to lie in the process, paint a picture that soon and without hesitation began to hunt them, as the Minister of Commerce, Mr. Wilson Tarpeh took to the airwave and with fabrication, provided a misguided and half-baked lecture on a serious matter with national dimension, while LPRC told a blatant lie as the Minster of Information LennEugeneNagbe rushed to the two drowning officials as the fixer, even that that level, the waters are all the bridge and not found under the bridge.

Of late,as the blame game takes center stage, LPRC in a statement on Monday disclosed that APM Terminals, a private companymanaging the Freeport of Monrovia, has been rescheduling vessels at the port which has caused extreme delay and inconveniences in getting petroleum products.

“As a result of the rescheduling of the vessels, we anticipate this unforeseen shortage of gasoline within ten to fourteen days. Within this period, we will experience shortage of gasoline (PMS) on the Liberian market,” the LPRC stated.

But PM Terminals debunked LPRC statement that the current shortage of gasoline in the country is due to APM Terminal rescheduling of vessels wanting to dock at the port.

“The Management of APM Terminals Liberia Ltd. wishes to put on record that the company has not rescheduled any vessels and we have no knowledge of vessels being rescheduled. Therefore, we totally and completely reject the unsubstantiated claim and wish to inform the Liberian public accordingly,” APM Terminals release emphasized.

According to the port management company, it is only responsible for the provide marine services which include the berthing/unberthing, pilotage, towing and monitoring of petroleum vessels at the LPRC pier or the BMC pier at the Free Port of Monrovia.

APM Terminals stated that is not involved in the discharge of petroleum products and that petroleum vessels berth at the LPRC and BMC pier only which are outside the APM Terminals concession area “therefore, APM Terminals is NOT involved in the scheduling/rescheduling of Petroleum vessels planned for the two piers The Management of APM Terminals Liberia Ltd”.

At the same time in a press statement issued on Monday, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism stated that the government “empathizes with the public for the difficulty they 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”.

The Ministry added: “This situation is disturbing and 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 government treats the constant availability and supply of petroleum and other essential commodities on the market with utmost importance.”

The government, therefore, constituted a special taskforce, headed by TrokonKpui, 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.

However, the political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander B. Cummings lashed out that “No serious government would elect to prioritize politics over the general well-being of its people, to the point of ignoring their pains and leaving them to trek long distances, and or spend considerable portions of their days and night struggling to acquire gas, while officials drive by in their cozy government cars under the comfort of air condition,” he said while giving the position of the ANC in a live broadcast on FrontPage Africa Facebook and Prime FM, a local radio station in Monrovia.

Cummings lamented though the current short supply of gasoline began about a month ago, the government vehemently denied the situation which has now culminated into a national crisis spiraling the already struggling economy downward.

He blamed the situation on the incompetence of public officials and further criticized President Weah for missing out on an opportunity to have addressed on the nation on the development when he addressed members of the Armed Forces of Liberia on Tuesday.

“This situation if not handled immediately can only get worse. Following weeks of denial, the GOL has not only failed to provide any clear action plan to address this crisis, but rather has resulted to blame shifting-something, no citizen is interested in at the moment. The Ministry of Commerce has blamed the shortage on wrong inventory and shallow harbor, the LPRC has blamed the shortage on the restrictions on bigger vessels instituted by concessionaire APM Terminals, which in turn had instituted said measures due to the port not being dredged, while the NPA has admitted that the Port has not been dredged thus limiting bigger vessels and tankers from berthing,” Cummings intoned.

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