Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
BULAWAYO Provincial Affairs Minister, Judith Ncube, has accused some fuel stations of diverting the product to the black market thereby creating an artificial shortage of the commodity in the city.
Responding to questions from the floor during a business conference for industrialists in Bulawayo on Wednesday, the minister acknowledged the concerns from motorists and businesses over fuel shortages, which have left commuters stranded.
Minister Ncube unequivocally blamed the artificial fuel shortage in the city to corruption.
“There is a lot of corruption around Bulawayo. People are draining fuel from the service stations taking it to the black market where it is being sold under the trees, plunging the city into an artificial shortage of fuel,” she blasted.
“There are genuine people who are failing to access fuel from the local garages while the precious commodity is in abundance in the informal market.
“I am sorry to say we have some uncouth elements perpetuating corruption in the fuel sector to the extent that it’s no longer available in the city’s service stations,” she said.
Minister Ncube said her office on Tuesday carried out a snap survey in the city and discovered that pirate taxis were taking advantage of the desperate commuting public charging them outrageous fares.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), we carried out our survey in the Central Business District and we discovered that Honda Fits were now charging desperate commuters between $8 and $12 per single trip.
“I am told there is a route to and from the CBD where they are charging as much as $15.
“We cannot go on like that. This morning (Wednesday), I received a call from Zupco management informing that they are totally grounded.
“As Government, we have managed to source about 10 000 litres for Zupco for today (Wednesday) and possibly tomorrow (yesterday),” said the minister.
Responding to the same concern from the industrialists, Industry and Commerce Permanent Secretary Dr Mavis Sibanda said Government was working to address the fuel challenges the country is experiencing.“The Government is doing its best to stabilise the situation. It will be difficult for us to give you an immediate answer right now on what Government is doing.
“But what we can tell you is that the Government is doing its best to address the situation,” she said.
With regards to the issue of workers who are coming to work already tired and late because of shortage of transport, she said the Government is increasing the fleet of Zupco buses.
Zupco this week took delivery of an additional 65 buses from China as Government moves to restore sanity in the public transport sector. The latest consignment came few months after 70 others arrived from the Asian country courtesy of the agreements signed during President Mnangagwa’s State visit to China recently. — @okazunga