Fuel situation gets desperate

HARARE - Suppliers are apparently refusing to release fuel to Zimbabwe until the government settles what it owes to them, the Daily News was told yesterday.

This comes as the prices of fuel are going down elsewhere in the region, while Zimbabweans have to contend with more anxiety and snaking queues at garages — as the government battles to pay suppliers.

It also comes as under-fire authorities announced on Friday that they had released an emergency $60 million for the procurement of fuel, as product shortages continue to cripple commerce and industry, agriculture, transporters and private motorists.

In addition, commuters have been left stranded and angry across the country, as they increasingly spend an inordinate amount of time waiting for transport — with those who are lucky to get lifts having to put up with sharply hiked fares.

A Daily News team which went around Harare yesterday to assess the situation was met by desperate and frustrated motorists in serpentine queues at garages — similar to those witnessed during the horror 2008 hyper-inflationary era.

And of the big four local fuel companies — Puma, Engen, Total and Zuva — only Total appeared to have significant supplies.

On average, Zimbabwe uses about four million litres of fuel a day, amid claims by the government that the commodity shortages are due to cheap local product prices and an allegedly expanding economy.

“Fuel consumption is doubling in the country. Those in the know explain the aspect in two forms — the expansion of the economy and comparatively cheap fuel prices which make one seek to drive to work rather than use public transport,” President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba, told the Daily News yesterday.

However, sources in the petroleum industry pooh-poohed the claims, saying the government was struggling to pay for supplies due to the prevailing and crippling shortage of foreign currency in the country.

“Government is in arrears on its payments, and so suppliers are refusing to release the fuel until it has settled what it owes.

“What is disappointing is that when government made a deal with one of the fuel companies here, authorities appeared to have relaxed — delaying paying suppliers in the process,” one of the sources said.

“You can’t gamble with fuel … the fact is that payments should be made in advance. With all that is happening, we are likely to see even longer queues before things stabilise.

“The problem is also worsening at a wrong time as demand tends to peak at this time of the year. We are hoping that Zim will have the requisite stocks soon for both the festive season and normal use,” the source added.

This comes as the government increased prices of fuel at the weekend, following the recent policy announcement by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube.

Presenting his maiden budget, Ncube raised excise duty on petrol and diesel by up to 7 cents per litre, to reduce arbitrage opportunities by foreigners taking advantage of local currency disparities.

“The country’s fuel has become relatively cheaper compared to prices obtaining in the region. The increase in consumption is clearly unsustainable, considering that the available foreign currency reserves have to be shared among other critical priorities,” he said.

Meanwhile, Information deputy minister Energy Mutodi told the Daily News yesterday that the government was expecting fuel supplies to improve “soon”.

“The fuel supply situation has been affected by some delays in the disbursement of foreign currency in recent days. However, the ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe are working on it and we expect things to return to normalcy soon.

“We are also worried that some fuel suppliers may be heavily indebted, and thus cannot get fuel for resale even when the commodity is available at depots,” he said.
Meanwhile too, South African motorists will enjoy a hefty drop in the price of fuel as from Wednesday.

“Gauteng motorists will be paying R1,84 less for both 93 and 95 octane petrol per litre from Wednesday.

“The Energy department said the price of diesel would drop by R1,45 and R1,47 respectively and paraffin by R1,78. LP gas will drop by R2,43 p/kg,” the Sunday Times of South Africa reported yesterday.


Sign up to receive BREAKING NEWS mobile phone text alerts from the Daily News for 5 cents a day. Dial *109*2*1# now to register. This service available to Econet users only.


 

Comments (7)

4 000 000 litres per day equates to 134 x 30 000 litre tankers per day! Thats 4 000 tankers a month! $60 million buys approximately 60 000 000 litres of fuel. That lasts Zim 15 days! There is a fuel shortage and government just cannot resolve and they are in lying crisis management mode!

Bill - 3 December 2018

trying to sign up with yr code am having problems

julius - 3 December 2018

Fuel use in ZW is doubling because it is half price compared to all the surrounding countries - I bring my one USD exchange it for 3 mabondi & fuel is suddenly very cheap. When are our dunderheads in govt going to understand this !!? Every day is circus day in ZW comrades

ace mukadota - 4 December 2018

This is 2008/2009 revisited if not worse. President Mnangagwa has no clue how to stem the tide which was unleashed by his mentor Mugabe. When he stands up in public and claims that fuel should be bought in foreign currency not bonds he is insulting the public and flaunting his ignorance of basic economics. The dollar is technically the primary legal tender in Zimbabwe. Added to this are disastrous monetary policies, extravagance and looting of the treasury in what can only be classified as criminal ineptitude and deplorable negligence. By allowing such conditions to prevail the government has automatically lost its legitimacy and doesn't even need Chamisa or public demonstrations to agitate for its resignation. It should just throw in the towel and walk away quietly to allow more competent people to run the country. The worst is yet to come and we should brace for a crash landing.

Jaikolu Maison - 4 December 2018

Simple: US$:1B is not true period. The sooner the Pfeerorists understand this the better. Fuel will always remain cheap in the world as long as they do not understand this simple equation.

Qawe laMaqawe - 5 December 2018

Ko mufesi uya uya we Bugatti ayida kubatsira arikupi ?.....nice car there , mufesi we murayini anoyityayerawo asi haana kupfuma semufesi we goridhe rake , Mutambi webhora.

Bugatti veyron - 5 December 2018

Anoda kuita bhizinesi remafuta ngaaite. Handiwoni kuti problem ndeyeyi....kana ndinemari why not get it from RSA....NDINOGONA kuisa deport rangu pa Beitbridge . Kana kuti ndopa mari ma vhasiti kuti ambotamba nema chemical formulas pamwe dhiziri rechivanhu ringaita. Currently only folks in Zanu PF and their rogues make money In Zim , selling fuel , etc.

Bugatti Veyron - 5 December 2018

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.