Sunday, April 22, 2012

Petrol Crisis strikes Freetown again...

There's a petrol crisis, again. This means long queues all over the city of taxis and private vehicles waiting for petrol. Waiting in line, not knowing when the petrol station will actually start selling again. It means that transport is scarce, but the roads are of course relatively traffic free, so if you manage to get transport, you won't have to sit through quite as much traffic.

Word on the street is that a shipment is coming next week. We'll see. Others say the business markets wants to up the price of petrol, but the government won't allow it. Right now the cost is 4,500 Leones for a liter, or 7,000 Leones in the black market as I found out today.

I had to come into the hospital today and wasn't sure how I would get there. When I approached the roundabout I met up with a taxi driver. This is what happened:

Taxi driver: Congo Cross, Congo Cross [his destination]
Me: I need to go to Cottage [Cottage is what the locals call the Children's Hospital as well as Maternity Hospital]
Taxi driver: Give me Forty Thousand
Me: I'll give you Twenty-Five Thousand [we usually pay between Twenty and Thirty Thousand for a chartered taxi to the hospital]
Taxi driver: Make it Thirty Five
Me: Thirty
Taxi Driver: Ok, get in.
Me: Do you have enough petrol?
Taxi Driver: Yes
Me: Are you sure you have enough to get to Cottage?
Taxi Driver: Yes
Me: Let's go

I get in the taxi and off we go. I'm feeling very fortunate. We have a conversation about the petrol crisis and Independence celebrations.

Twenty minutes later. We reached Goderich street. Half-way there. The car starts jerking. The driver pulls over.

Taxi Driver: The petrol is done
Me: What, you said you had enough petrol
Taxi Driver: The petrol is less
Me: Okay, here's Ten Thousand
Taxi Driver: We said Thirty Thousand
Me: I know, but that was to Cottage and now I have to walk
Taxi Driver: Give me Twenty
Me: No
Taxi Driver: Give me Twenty and I'll find you another taxi [I knew there taxis were scarce]
Me: No, here's Ten Thousand, I'll walk the rest of the day.

And off I went on my 30 minute walk to the hospital under the hot-burning sun (as they say here!) That is my first-hand experience of the petrol crisis.

I'm now waiting to be picked up. Osman is on his way. Unfortunately he waited in line for about 4 hours at a petrol station and they never started selling. He ended up buying 4 liters off of friends at the steep price of 7,000 Leones per liter. Oh Salone.

1 comment:

Bob (Bingo) Wright said...

I love your blog. Takes me to the developing nations every time I read it. Thank you!

-Bob Wright
Anastasis 87-90

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~