Fuel shortages  crippling economy

© THE country has once again lurched into the throes of crippling fuel shortages.

During the Independence and Easter holidays, the situation had vastly improved, but not anymore.
Government must urgently address the shortages before they bring the economy down on its knees.

Industry and commerce have suffered because of the absence of diesel and petrol on the market while ordinary motorists are also enduring lengthy periods queuing at the few service stations that are lucky to have the “precious” liquid.

Instead of being at work, employees are devoting much of their time in fuel queues, hence eating into productive time.
Deliveries of perishables have also been affected and several horticultural companies cannot take their produce to the intended markets.

The public transport sector is among the worst affected and is struggling to keep afloat as most operators have their fleets either grounded or stuck in long, winding fuel queues.

Inadvertently, this has affected the transportation of commuters who are spending long hours waiting for transport. Public transporters are therefore hiking their fares at will while pointing to the scarcity of the product.
With schools opening on Tuesday, the resultant transport blues will affect a number of school children who commute to and from school every day.

There seems to be no immediate solution to the fuel situation. Energy minister Rugare Gumbo says there is enough fuel in stock in the country but the problem lies with its retailers who are failing to access foreign currency to pay for it.
Gumbo says as long as there is no foreign currency, there won’t be any improvement in fuel supplies in the country.
What that means is that the country must put together solutions to address the supply side of forex.

The biggest problem we have is that there are too few exporters, who are struggling to defend their market share in foreign lands because they lack the competitive edge to hold their own.
As a matter of urgency, Gumbo should also engage all players in the energy sector, including the service stations, so that they deliberate on the way forward.

This is not the time to feel hapless. It is time for solutions. Immediately, it is imperative that government put in place measures to support the winter farming season.
We urge those in authority to see to it that there is enough fuel stocks for the winter crop otherwise we will be importing essential grains like wheat next year.

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