The shortage of gasoline pushes the service stations to close to the delight of the most enterprising.
A few meters from this usually busy station, 18-year-old Princia Omah tacks her bottles full of gasoline and fuel oil under a multicolored umbrella that protects her from the scorching sun.
“I sell fuel to facilitate people in vehicles”explains the young woman.
The Central African Republic, the second least developed country in the world according to the United Nations, regularly encounters problems with its hydrocarbon supply. But since March, the country has been experiencing a dramatic shortage.
“These are the consequences of the war in Ukraine and the difficulties in transporting hydrocarbons because the country has no access to the sea”, Ernest Fortuné Batta, general manager of the Central African Society for the Storage of Petroleum Products (SOCASP), explains to AFP.
In Bangui, the price at the pump has been blocked by the authorities at 865 CFA francs (1.32 euros) per liter for several years. But on the streets, bottled fuel costs 30 to 40 percent more.
These retailers are mostly supplied on the black market and often buy cut and poor quality products.
“My father gets his supplies from smugglers in the Muslim quarter 5 km from the city center, usually he comes from Chad or Cameroon”, says Princess Omah.
On the outskirts of the closed stations, street vendors have thus replaced the petrol stations, several hundred of which are in technical unemployment.
The last who resist are attacked by motorcades of vehicles, all in search of a few liters of the precious liquid.
“I have no choice, I have to get fuel from these dealers to allow me to shop and go to work, even if sometimes these fuels are mixed and this can cause problems for the car”, complains Cédric Banam, who buys it three times a week. “We did not expect the crisis to reach this level. I have many more customers than before “says Maurice Gbeza, 29, a peddler for a year.
As a result, transport prices are skyrocketing in tune with the anger of users.
“I used to spend 1,000 CFA francs a day (about 1.5 euros) but now I need at least 2,000 francs a day, that’s too much, the salary hasn’t changed” regrets Pamela Mayevosson, administrative secretary. “The government must quickly restore the situation otherwise the country risks becoming a desert”, she lets go.
“No solution is foreseen to remedy this situation”infuriates Franck Ngaïckom, president of the mototaxi union, adding: “The government does not realize that the people are suffering. Many drivers have stopped working “.
Among the poorest
According to Mr. Batta, the government “contacted other suppliers to end this crisis”without giving further details. In mid-March, the Minister of Energy and Hydraulics, Arthur Bertrand Piri, wanted to reassure the population by announcing the arrival of trucks to supply the capital. But the situation has continued to worsen since then.
“Three tankers have just arrived to alleviate the situation, we still have a stock of hydrocarbons but we are limiting deliveries to avoid falling into total drought”says Batta.
“Come to Maman M16, it’s 1,100 francs a bottle”greets Marguerite Goungbon, 52, from the bottom of her plastic chair.
“When I saw that most of the stations were closed due to the crisis, I started selling gasoline”explains this former donut seller. “But when the crisis is over, I’ll stop selling”concludes.
A country still in civil war since 2013, although it has significantly decreased in intensity for four years, the Central African Republic is totally landlocked in the heart of the African continent, and is one of the poorest countries in the world despite its wealth of natural resources , in particular gold and diamonds, but with interesting potential also in oil.
The World Bank estimates that only 71% of the approximately 6 million inhabitants live below the international level of poverty (less than 2.15 euros per person per day). Nearly half suffer from food insecurity and depend on international humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations.
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