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Sierra Leone: Gas shortages forces taxi drivers to turn to black market

Picture of petrol station in Freetown Sierra Leone.   -  
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Sierra Leone

Long queues are still being experienced at major petrol stations in Sierra Leone as the west African country grapples with high gas prices and scarcity.

The gas prices have nearly doubled compared to the previous year to 1.14 USD.

"If I come to the gas station and there is no gas, I will go to the black market, the Jebu, where people sell it in bottles. They sell it in the black market for 30 Leones for one litter. 30 Leones for 1 litre at the black market," said Modiboh Jebbo, a motorcycle taxi driver.

"When we came, we were expecting to buy gas at 21 Leones. If I want to buy 5 litres, it will cost me 105 Leones. I will ride with this for the rest of the day so I have to maintain the bike, I have to pay my boss 80 Leones (nb, he rents the bike), I buy fuel 105 Leones, I have to eat and I have to maintain the bike, change the oil, so I have to do all those things. 

So if we have this fuel crisis, it affects us and now we cannot buy directly from the gas station, we buy at the black market for 30 Leones (per liter)." said Alhaji Mohammed Kamara, a bike rider.

But with shortages at gas stations, taxi drivers riding motorcycles or tricycles called Kekes are forced to turn to the black market, where the price is even higher. This has now forced them to increase fare prices.

Despite being illegal gas from the black market costs 50 percent more than at petrol station and increase that motorists like taxi drivers have to direct to their customers.

"The price of gas is high so I have to increase the price for the passengers and the passengers have to pay me a high price because I paid a very high price for my gas," said Alhaji Mohammed Kamara, a motorcycle taxi driver.

Just like the rest of the world, Sierra Leone is also faced with high inflation and a dwindling economy.

In August, a protest against "economic hardship" in Freetown, Sierra descended into clashes between security forces and youth demanding the president resign amid the struggling economy.

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