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Liberians Stuck at the Pumps

Officials are struggling to keep the fuel flowing at petrol pumps, as sloppy bookkeeping and poor port infrastructure have caused long queues at petrol pumps for nearly two weeks. Incorrect fuel-reserve figures in the impoverished West African country partly led to the shortage, which has dragged on since late January, an industry official said. But an undredged port in the capital Monrovia has also prevented large fuel tankers from docking, according to port and government officials. Consumers are spending less on household items as fuel prices rise, he said, and businesses are operating under capacity. Liberia suffers frequent fuel shortages, but the current one has lasted an unusually long time. Queues forming before dawn at petrol stations are now commonplace, and scarcity has forced taxis and buses to hike fares. The shortage is another blow to President George Weah, who is under increasing pressure to improve living conditions in the country of some 4.8 million people. He inherited an economy already devastated by back-to-back civil wars from 1989 to 2003, and by the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak.