As residents in Dominica continue to grapple with the shortage of fuel, Prime Minister Gaston Browne is giving the assurance that a boat is expected in Dominica Friday morning.
He said the government is going to increase the storage capacity for gasoline at Petrocaribe and a national reserve will be created.
“We expect the boat to come in either tonight or tomorrow morning, certainly tomorrow morning,” he stated.
A number of people have not been able to embark on their usual Christmas shopping and children are unable to attend extra classes because of the shortage.
“I have my bills to pay. I have a bad leg. I cannot walk to town. No buses are on the road,” Sandra told our newsroom.
Meanwhile, Skerrit said the boat is in St Kitts right now where it has been experiencing difficulties in offloading.
“So, the government spoke directly, not only with the agent there, but we spoke directly to the ship captain. That’s the extent through which we have been making efforts to get the product there. And the captain told us that he is waiting to offload, to discharge in St Kitts and the next stop on his itinerary is Dominica.”
He said there are plans to increase the storage capacity of gasoline at Petrocaribe and create a national reserve.
“So we will be constructing additional tanks for gasoline and to create a national reserve for the country,” he said. “We are about, in the next few weeks after the holidays, we will enter into an agreement with a regional supplier of petroleum products or gasoline, on top of our arrangement with PetroCaribe, so that we can have a national reserve in the event of such eventuality that we can provide the private sector if they have difficulties in bringing it in.”
He said such move is not to compete with the private sector but to compliment it.
Skerrit also revealed that Dominica has received three shipments of petroleum products from Venezuela in the last couple months but sanctions placed on the South American country has made trading difficult.
“Venezuela has not been able to transact with petroleum products to the extent that they did before the sanctions came into effect,” he explained. “And even with the ability now to supply petroleum products they are hampered by transportation because shipping companies are still not prepared to do business with Venezuela because of the fear that they will violate the sanctions on Venezuela and find themselves in problems.”
He said the shipments included four to five thousand barrels of gasoline which were then used to supply Rubis gas stations.
“We expect to get a shipment from Venezuela soon on this and of course with the increase of (storage) capacity, we can get any quantity we want from Venezuela once we have the storage capacity,” he stated.
The prime minster described present gasoline situation in Dominica as “unfortunate” but said that it is not fair to blame the government for it.
“But the same people I hear and I see, it’s the government’s fault are the same people who criticize the presence of Petrocaribe,” he noted. “But I believe in our strategic plan, I believe the government must have at its disposal, for its own national security and its own national economy, to be in a position to have a national reserve and is something that we have never done in our lifetime as a country and I think with all of the challenges we have with supply chain and all sorts of things, I think it is important.”
Previously, the government had said that shipments of gasoline were expected in Dominica on December 22, 25 and 27. (Source DNO)