Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 November 2019:
Petrol stations across many towns and cities in Sierra Leone are today closed, due to shortage in supply of fuel products, such as petrol, diesel and kerosene, causing long traffic queues at filling stations.
Whilst the cause of the shortage is not clear, the national petroleum agency has issued a statement warning fuel companies to refrain from hoarding fuel to force prices up. It warns that “there will be no increase in the prices of feul this year”.
But fuel companies have denied creating artificial scarcity by hoarding, which the government claims is the cause of the fuel shortage at the pumps across the country.
Some fuel companies are blaming the shortage on declining stock of fuel due to the country’s worsening foreign currency exchange problem, which has made the cost of importing fuel very expensive.
There are reports that in Kenema and several other provincial towns and cities, almost all filling stations are closed, with drivers hopelessly queuing up for fuel.
In the capital Freetown, electricity blackouts is causing serious problems in many parts of the city, as gas guzzling power generators run short of supplies.
The country’s electricity distribution and supply agency (EDSA) says that it needs Le311 Billion to function efficiently and to provide lower-cost electricity.
This week’s fuel scarcity will have significant impact on industry as well as households, as the costs of transportation now set to rise, adding further pressure on inflation which currently stands at over 17%.
To compound this economic hardship, yesterday’s decision by MPs in parliament to add a clause to the government’s 2020 Finance Act, which now classes the cost of international travels by the President, Vice President and Speaker of Parliament as “non-accountable expenditure” has been greeted across the country with dismay and alarm.
What this means is that, the President, Vice President and Speaker of Parliament will no longer account for the amount of money they spend on their international travels.
Listen here to the report from parliament:
Unemployment in Sierra Leone is rising faster as the number of graduates and school leavers unable to find work, grows. Seventy percent of young people are out of work as the economy bites.
The government says it is doing all it can to stimulate and promote investments in key sectors of the economy to create jobs and reduce poverty, but as yet there is no end in sight to the economic hardship facing millions of people across the country.
With foreign currencies in short supply and government budget tightening due to falling export revenue, corruption in high places may not now be a big problem for Sierra Leone as it was in the previous government.
But the rising cost of foods and basic consumer items is without doubt, fast becoming a big headache for the Bio-led government.
This is what people in Freetown think about the fuel shortage (courtesy of Sierra Network):