Region One grapples with shortage of fuel
By Bibi Khatoon
Businessmen and women in Region One (Barima Waini) are being forced to pay between $8,000 and $15,000 for five gallons of fuel as a result of a shortage of the commodity.
The shortage has led to an increase in land and water transportation costs, according to Regional Chairman Brentnol Ashley.
He noted that residents are being forced to pay between $8000 to $10,000 for five gallons of gasoline in Mabaruma and Moruca and $ 12000 to $15000 in Matarkai.
In cases where taxis usually cost $1,000, it is now $3,000 or $4,000.
During an interview with the News Room Tuesday, Ashley explained that the shortage is also affecting the Regional Democratic Council’s (RDC) ability to execute its duties.
“Many of the RDC programmes which deal with having boat transportation on the river top for emergency cases…is now under severe threat because we may not be able to execute emergency trips to get patients and so forth, who are very sick,” the Regional Chairman lamented.
Region One gets fuel from neighbouring Venezuela and with the permission of Government, persons transport fuel across the border; it is only legal up to the Pomeroon mouth in Region Two.
But over the past five weeks, supply has dwindled due to the situation in the neighbouring state.
“Even in Venezuela, we were told that their systems too, they’re having a problem getting gasoline especially from the various service stations there and so the persons who normally ply the trade of fuel aren’t being able to bring over the quantity or have the quantity of fuel to be supplied to the region,” the Regional Chairman told the News Room.
There is no GuyOil service station in the region but Ashley is suggesting that to address the issue, the state-owned oil company should send fuel tankers to supply retailers in the region.
He is also calling for an immediate relaxation of the $5000 per barrel tax on all fuel by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).“Every sector relies heavily on fuel across the region,” he said adding that diesel will also be in short supply in the coming weeks.
The Regional Chair said visits were made to the Region by Minister within Ministry of Communities Annette Ferguson and Member of Parliament Mervyn Williams in recent weeks but nothing was done to address the issue.
“I am of the firm opinion and the view that the Government isn’t taking seriously the issues that are affecting this region,” he said.
He also referred to the Region’s growing migrant population.
The Regional Chair is also calling on the Guyana Energy Agency to investigate the offloading of ships at the Waini point where fuel is purchased and shipped to Georgetown, Bartica and Suriname causing local dealers to be at a disadvantage.
The RDC is planning to write a formal letter to the Minister of Communities, other subject ministers and President David Granger to force an urgent intervention.