Please allow me space in your professional and fascinating newspaper which continues to attract the attention of newspaper readers across the length and breadth of the country.
I wish to express my sense of immense concern about the fuel shortage that has become a frequent occurrence in our country, leading to colossal negative effects on the economic well being and livelihoods of people. This is indeed very worrying as some workers find it difficult to find their way to work while others, including drivers find it extremely difficult to go about their routine businesses with their mobility hamstrung.
Within a period of two months, the country has been affected by two major cases of fuel shortage which has left both commercial and non-commercial vehicles struggling and jostling at different fuel stations for the commodity across the greater Banjul area. Some people had to join long queues just to get three or four litters of fuel .This is indeed disconcerting to many individuals and businesses.
Another major consequence of the stinging dearth of fuel is the fact that it always leads to increase in transport fares. One may wonder how the majority of people who subsist on less than a dollar a day can cope with such a situation when they are also saddled with the onerous dependency of members of the extended family that is more common in this part of the world.
They also fall on the same meager resources to solve other personal problems and at the same time go to work to render service to the country. Many workers had no other options but to come to work late because of scarcity of vehicles which is dangerous to our economy as a country.
School children are equally stranded on highways scrambling for transport whilst others had to resort to trekking long distances to get to their destinations. Some have to miss their first or second lectures all due to shortage in fuel.
Moreover, fuel shortages have more often than not led to increases in fuel prices and this may concomitantly lead to increases in transportation fares; which in turn can equally lead to many other additional costs of production, goods delivery and distribution, et cetera.
Drivers equally complain that even though the price of fuel is being increased, fares remain stagnant which is not in their interest as it depletes their profit margin.
This is also the moment when some unscrupulous people, drivers to be specific, will unilaterally charge fares that are higher than normal. This trend is indeed making the poor poorer, if temporally, and as a result continues to pose a threat to our economic welfare as a people.
To address this issue, we must first address the major causes of the shortage. These questions might however be difficult to answer but what can we do as people to address such an worrying situation?
Further more, I personally believe that, unless and until the world moves towards promoting trade liberalisation, this problem will surely be a hard one to tackle. For Africa, we must equally work on promoting trade liberalisation and facilitation at regional level, integrate our different economic sectors and micro-economic policies while embarking on prudent resource tapping and utilisation so as to address this challenge.
Finally, the government has a big and crucial role to play in this direction. Despite the global economic meltdown, the government and other relevant stakeholders should make it a priority to promote liberalisation and engage in more bilateral and multilateral economic dialogue for the promotion of regional trade. For example, Nigeria being the economic power house and muscle of the continent of Africa endowed with massive petroleum resources, I believe it has the potential to address such dilemmas in collaboration with less endowed countries.