Zambia hit by fuel shortage

 

 LUSAKA – The Zambian government has waived duty on imported fuel to tackle a nationwide fuel shortage.

Zambia’s President Ru­piah Banda on Wednesday also directed all border posts in the country to expressly clear oil tankers and instructed security wings to provide escort to trucks to ensure timely delivery of fuel.na zvi

Last week, government announced a 25 percent waiver on fuel imports to allow Oil Marketing Com­panies (OMCs) to quickly import the commodity at a cheaper price but the suspension of duty did lit­tle to avert the crisis.

According to govern­ment, the fuel shortage was caused by a catalyst breakdown at the coun­try’s only oil refinery com­pany, Indeni, which forced the plant to shut-down earlier than expected be­fore it was due for service.

The fuel shortage has led to winding queues of motorists at service sta­tions as people try to fill empty fuel tanks.

A check by Southern Times in the capital, Lu­saka, on Wednesday, found motorists queuing up at service stations thought to be earmarked for pet­rol supplies, while other service stations that had completely no stocks were abandoned.

Drivers in some cases were forced to walk to fill­ing stations and line- up with containers to buy the commodity after their cars ran out.

“This is absolutely ri­diculous, I spent five hours in the queue yesterday and just when I thought that I was getting nearer to buy­ing petrol, I was told they had run out. The little that I was left with ran out on my way to work this morn­ing. Now I have to line up with a container, I don’t know how many hours I will be here,” complained Kasanda Chisenga, a Lusaka motorist.

Despite the seemingly volatile situation, Energy Minister Kenneth Konga had earlier in the week insisted on the availability of enough fuel supplies and called for a probe into what he claimed was a scam to divert fuel.

He told local media that government had com­menced investigations to establish the continued shortage of fuel in Lusaka and other parts of the coun­try, even after offloading sufficient stocks on the market:

“As far as the govern­ment is concerned, there is enough fuel in Lusaka. The question is where are the stocks?” Konga asked.

Over 400, 000 litres of fuel had been offloaded onto the market on Monday, while a further 350,000 li­tres of petrol was expected in Lusaka by Tuesday.”

The minister advised motorists to avoid panic buying of the commodity claiming there was no fuel crisis.

Government had hired Independent Petroleum Group (IPG) of Kuwait and Dalbit Petroleum of Kenya to import 50 million litres of diesel and 30 million litres of petrol to ensure there were adequate stocks during the shutdown of Indeni Refinery.

In addition, govern­ment also asked the OMCs to import 20 million litres of diesel and 11 million litres of petrol and waived 25 percent import duty on fuel for two weeks to facilitate the exercise.

Last week, the Zam­bian government also re­quested the Zimbabwean government to keep the Chirundu border open after 1800 hours but de­spite all these measures motorists are yet to see any changes. 

October 2009
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