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Fuel Crisis…

By Ibrahim Alusine Kamara (Kamalo)

It has been a usual norm in Sierra Leone that local oil marketers would create artificial scarcity of fuel whenever they desire an increase in its pump price. It has also been the culture and tradition of the concerned government authorities to quickly pull the wool in the eyes of the masses by refuting any pending increment in prices of petroleum products amid assurances of abundant availability of the same in store though it has always lacked verity.

Without a doubt, the foregoing is the state of affairs seemingly rearing its ugly head presently in the country.

About a week long now, the local oil market has been steeped in scarcity of fuel products, evident in the bizarre closure of many filling stations before time with some not opened at all to sell the products to the public.

While the masses believe that the trend is “manmade” to be used as leeway to justify reasons for a planned increment in the pump price, as is usually the case, government authorities have quickly come forward to affirm the abundant availability of fuel in storage facilities, therefore, rebutting the rumour of any pending increase in the price of the commodity.

At the weekend in the Western Area, however, complaints were rife from many motorists about how they bought a liter of petrol forty-five New Leones (NLe45), while bike riders in Waterloo Rural claim to have bought a liter at costs ranging from thirty-five New Leones (NLe35) to forty New Leones (NLe40).

Rumour mills further have it that local oil marketers and their puppet concerned government authorities are busy scheming an increase in the pump price of fuel from the thirty New Leones (NLe30) it is presently sold to about forty New Leones (NLe40).

If these rumours prove to be the truth as we go into the near future, it logically follows that more trouble is in the offing for the already impoverished and penury-stricken Sierra Leoneans, especially as the unwanted occurrence is coming in the wake of Parliament said to have defeated the expectation of the masses by approving the astronomical increase in the tollgate tariffs.

As Sierra Leoneans call on their authorities to now end the aggravation of financial burden on them, they urge the government to subsidize fuel this time around to not worsen their living conditions amid the lack of jobs that could allow them to realise a meaningful social life.

As it is, the persistent hike in the prices of goods and cost of services is too scary and worrisome for Sierra Leonean citizens, many of whom live below one dollar a day and who are the majority of the country’s population. They think that enough of this should be enough, and no other time but now!

It must be borne in mind that the new tollgate tariffs, said to come into effect on May 1, 2024, are a catalyst for a possible hike in transport fares, and any coincidental increase in the price of fuel products will inevitably exacerbate not just transportation costs but the already appalling living conditions of the masses. It is, therefore, hoped that the rumour making rounds about fuel price increment at this time will remain just a mere town gossip without the legs to stand on and grow.

If fuel is let to increase in price at this time when the price of the staple food rice has hit the skies, then it will not be a hit below the belt if someone concludes that the Bio government is not the one to end the suffering of his Sierra Leonean compatriots even though he promised to do so.

An unfriendly tax regime like the one under President Bio, as well as the indiscriminate rise in the cost of basic commodities and services, is never a way of ending the suffering of a people whose minimum wage remains constantly meager let alone those without job opportunities.

Salone Compass Newspaper, therefore, considers it imperative for state actors, including civil society activists, to stand up for the vulnerable Sierra Leonean people and circumvent any further increase in the cost of fuel which is an additional misery in their daily lives, especially in the face of an existing international report that from upcoming June 2024, millions of Sierra Leoneans will be struggling to get food to eat.

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