Lethem has been hit by a fuel shortage as fresh supplies have yet to reach the border community while efforts are ongoing to effect repairs on sections of the Linden to Lethem trail.
Residents told Stabroek News yesterday that fuel stations within Lethem had been low on fuel at the beginning of the week and supplies ran out yesterday at the main services stations. Heavy vehicles that are usually used to ferry fuel from suppliers have been banned from using the Lethem road while repair works are ongoing. The gas stations in the region are supplied by the Guyana Oil company (GuyOil) and the Texaco oil company.
Attempts by Stabroek News to obtain a comment from the regional administration yesterday were unsuccessful. However, this newspaper understands that as a result of the shortage, Lethem and surrounding communities have been experiencing periods of load shedding, with some areas experiencing eight hours of power daily.
Vehicles were turning up at the three gas stations at Lethem yesterday to news of no fuel, residents related. One resident said while the only alternative is to purchase gas at fuel stations in Bon Fim, across the border in Brazil, this comes with an added cost. Gas is sold at Lethem at approximately $215 per litre while across the border it has been retailing at $490 per litre over the past several months. A Lethem resident noted that Brazilians would normally cross over to Lethem to purchase fuel because of the low price of gas. It is illegal to ferry fuel in bulk quantities into the region. However, persons were engaging in ‘panic buying’ over the past several days as news spread of the low quantities of fuel available, Stabroek News was told.
On Thursday, an advisory was put out in the area that all categories of vehicular traffic were prevented from using the road until tomorrow. However, this newspaper was told that two buses arrived at Lethem from the city yesterday while another two were expected to depart for the Coastland yesterday afternoon.
Engineers attached to the Works Ministry are working to fix the impassable sections of the trail. The army was called in to assist in ensuring trucks and other heavy vehicles were not allowed to traverse the road from the Lethem side on Tuesday evening.
Works Minister Robeson Benn said that the trucks failed to heed a request not to traverse the savannah section of the trail between Kurupukari and Lethem and this led to deep ruts being created in areas that were about a foot under water. Pickups and other light vehicles were allowed to use the road, Benn stated, and he expressed hope that the situation would have been rectified by today.