Liberia risks slipping back to the recent nightmare of gasoline shortage that nearly brought the entire economy to its kneel characterized by hike in prices and protests by commercial cyclists, including trekking by students, marketers and public workers.
The managing director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) Marie-Urey Coleman told the Liberian Senate last week that current stock of gas in the country will last for 48 days, with the risk of a return of the recent gasoline crisis this nation experienced.
She however disclosed a vessel of 15,000 metric tons of gasoline is expected to arrive by 10th March.
Madam Coleman also told senators the LPRC lacks money to import its petroleum into Liberia, so it relies on private importers to bring in the commodity for the public.
She said, prior to the recent petroleum crisis, she tried to obtain credit from commercial banks to import the product in order to be able to store reserve that would address crisis like the recent shortage that nearly paralyzed the economy.
The LPRC has not brought in its own products for about 15-20 years, managing director Coleman disclosed, and stressed that by law, the entity should be the importer of petroleum products for the country other than leaving the business at the hands of private importers.
This is where we draw the attention of the senate. If there were laws on the book, why aren’t they being implemented? Government should not perpetually treat the LPRC as a “glorified gas station” to borrow the word from the late former managing director, Harry Greaves.
Government should not create public entities and abandon them by the wayside, because that’s what the LPRC is truly is: a storage center for petroleum products brought in by private importers.
Now is time for our policymakers to rethink the issue and take actions on such an issue that is so critical for the smooth running of the economy.
The LPRC Management, thru managing director Coleman, has identified some of the problems the entity faces, including lack of finances. How could government run such institution with great potentials to generate revenue and allow it to struggle; we don’t understand.
Now that the senate has been thoroughly briefed, it should communicate to the executive with necessary recommendations to avoid another gas shortage or else, the authorities could be shooting themselves in the leg.