Road Side Gasoline Sellers Plead for Government’s Reconsideration

By: Albert Fania, Contributor

Monrovia -March 27,2024: In a desperate plea to salvage their livelihoods, street gas sellers, popularly known as Can-boys in Monrovia, are appealing to the government of Liberia through the Liberia National Police, to reconsider its recent ban on their operation in the streets.

Recently, the LNP declared that only gas stations would be permitted to sell fuel, effectively halting the activities of Can-boys across the country.

The announcement by the LNP Inspector General sent shockwaves through the community of street gas sellers, who now find themselves grappling with uncertainty and financial instability. Many of these sellers, visibly disheartened by the decision, are voicing their frustrations, emphasizing that this ban has completely disrupted their only source of income.

“We are deeply disappointed in the UP government for this order. Selling gas on the streets has been our means of survival for years. Implementing this ban has only pushed us further into the financial crisis,” expressed Samuel Kamara, a long-time Can-boy operating in Monrovia.

The LNP measures were intended to provide an enabling environment that will protect lives and create a safe environment for all citizens.

The Can-boys, recognized for their unique selling method of gasoline from repurposed containers, argue that the ban does not only targets their livelihoods but also overlooked their role in serving communities where gas stations are scarce or inaccessible.

These street sellers have historically played an essential role in providing fuel to individuals who are unable to reach gas stations, ensuring they can continue with their daily activities.

But speaking to Women’s TV-Liberia about the situation, some members of the Can-boys said the impact of the ban extends beyond the Can-boys themselves, as it indirectly affects the public who relied on their services. With gas stations already facing challenges in meeting the increasing demand for fuel, the absence of street gas sellers only exacerbates the problem, leading to longer queues and inconvenience for customers.

In response to the petition from the Can-boys, government officials have yet to make an official statement. However, it is expected that the issue will be deliberated at the highest levels to find common ground and address the concerns of street gas sellers while ensuring public safety and regulation in the fuel supply chain.

Meanwhile, advocacy groups and civil society organizations have already begun campaigning for the reversal of the ban, highlighting the socio-economic implications faced by the Can-boys.

They argue that a more comprehensive approach should be adopted, incorporating street gas sellers into the formal sector through proper regulation and licensing, ultimately enhancing safety and standards.

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