Nearly two months after communities in Region One (Barima-Waini) were hit by a fuel shortage, which is significantly affecting businesses, households and even the regional administration, regional authorities are yet to receive any response, updates or intervention of Central Government.
A letter was sent by the region to the Communities Minister, however, it is still awaiting a response of receipt or any update from that entity with regards to the issue.
Region One Chairman, Brentnol Ashley in an invited comment on Monday told Guyana Times that the region is still plagued with this problem. He pointed out that the Guyana Oil Company had visited the region last month, however, there were no updates or directives as to what steps will be taken. Ashley noted, however, that there has been no intervention or solution offered by the Government thus far.
Ashley explained that businesses are hiring boats to transport fuel from Charity into Mabaruma. He said the region now pays some $70,000 per drum of fuel against the usual cost of $20,000 per drum. He added that this is a crisis which is having even harsher consequences on communities in the Matarkai District.
Prices for services like transportation in the region has tripled and major projects have been suspended as a result of the limited fuel supply in the district. Due to the limited supply and high demand of the commodity, residents are forced to pay between $8000 to $10,000 per five gallons of gasoline in Mabaruma. In Matarkai, the price can go as high as $15,000, Ashley stated.
In cases where taxis usually cost $1000, the fare is now as high as $4000. School children are forced to pay $200 from Kumaka to Mabaruma, up from a fee of roughly $60.
“It is affecting us tremendously,” Ashley added.
He said regional projects and activities are at a standstill because of this shortage. “It also puts a threat to those emergency calls that we get for patients who are sick to get to the hospital,” the Regional Chairman explained.
From his assessment, the shortage of fuel is as a result of the crisis in neighbouring Venezuela.
Region One gets fuel from the Spanish-speaking nation, and with the permission of the relevant authorities, the fuel is transported across the border. This practice is only legal up to the Pomeroon River mouth in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam).
But over the past weeks, the supply has dwindled due to the worsening social and economic situation in Venezuela, he said.
Ashley reiterated calls on Central Government to intervene. He explained that with no GuyOil service station in the region, the State-owned entity should send fuel tankers to the area to supply retailers.
The Regional Democratic Council recently made recommendations to Government via social media that there be an immediate relaxation on the $5000 a barrel GRA tax on all fuel.
Additionally, it called for the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) and other authorities to look into the ships that are coming to Waini point and purchasing the unmarked fuel and shipping them to Georgetown, Bartica and Suriname, causing local dealers to be disadvantaged. Further, it recommended that GuyOil provide an urgent supply to the region as this shortage is creating major challenges to not only the region but also the residents and businesses.