The political leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress or ANC, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings has described President George Weah’s silence over the ongoing gasoline shortage in the country as a “tacit approval of the level of incompetence exhibited by officials of his government”.
“This callous silence in the face of serious difficulty confronting the general populace, is tantamount to his tacit approval of the level of incompetence exhibited by officials of his government,” Mr. Cummings said in a statement issued Wednesday February 12.
Mr. Cummings indicated that his party notes with grave concern the undue hardship imposed on all Liberians by this crisis, but especially students, workers and business men and women.
There has been an acute shortage of gasoline across the country for nearly a month now forcing citizens and foreign residents to trek long distances as some spend countless hours in queues for gasoline for their cars, businesses, and homes.
President Weah has deliberately refused to comment on the crisis in public. Barely three weeks ago, Weah failed to mention the crisis in his annual address before the 54th Legislature.
As if it wasn’t as serious then and now, on Tuesday February 11, 2020, while addressing men and women in arms during the Armed Forces Day celebrations here, Mr. Weah again failed to mention the crisis and what his government is doing to remedy it.
Until recently, the Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC led government has denied that there was a shortage of gasoline in the country. It rather chose to blame some unnamed individuals of trying to undermine Mr. Weah’s annual address-no wonder the president made no mention of the crisis in that address.
But as the crisis deepens, officials have resorted to blaming shifting-the Commerce Ministry headed Mr. Wilson Tarpeh has blamed wrong inventory and shallow harbor for the shortage, while the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company or LPRC , which has been reduced to a storage farm, blamed the restrictions of bigger vessels by APM Terminals for the shortage.
AMP Terminal is the company with a management consultancy contract to manage the Free Port of Monrovia, it has restricted the berthing of bigger vessels due to the port not being dredged.
The government last week announced that it has begun the dredging of the port. LPRC says the process will take 10-14 working days at which time it would be able to land gasoline products in the country, but experts say it would take about three weeks to complete.
But to Mr. Cummings, the government appears to be overlooking the level of threats this crisis poses.“So far, the actions of the GoL does not reflect concerns for the level of threat that this crisis pose to the country and its people at large. It goes without saying that the rising cost of gasoline, and the ripple effects it is already having on the lives of the citizenry are multiple,” Cummings opined.
“It beats our imaginations that the Weah-led government has not felt the need to demonstrate the least form of accountability for the hardship imposed on our people. This level of carelessness, is however, not surprising since most government officials ride vehicles that use diesel and as such do not have to be subjected to the gas shortage and inconveniences with which the general populace is confronted,” he added.
And further argues 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.”
Meanwhile, the ANC in its statement proposes temporary measures it feels the government can now adopt, while it awaits the completion of the dredging of the port berth.
“We therefore, call on the Weah-led government to consider the following immediate steps in addressing the situation:
1. Reach out to neighboring Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast to explore the possibility of getting supplies of gasoline using road-tankers until a vessel is able to dock at the port. The LPRC in its recently released statement has estimated a period of two weeks before this situation can be brought under control. We do not have 2 weeks.
2. Immediately begin a stock-taking of the quantity of rice in country to determine our preparedness to prevent a shortage of rice for the next 3 weeks.3. Provide a timeline for the completion of the dredging of the port and estimated time of arrival of emergency fuel supply.4. Close all schools for a period of one week as it has become nearly impossible for students to get to and from school.
5. Institute an essential-staff policy in the public sector to reduce the workforce and have employees work from home as applicable.6. Dismiss the heads of all government agencies responsible for this sector to include NPA, LPRC and Commerce and replace them with competent technicians.7. Address the nation immediately, speak to your people.8. Stop taking Liberians for granted.” By Othello B. Garblah