Auxilia Katongomara, Chronicle Reporter
THE country has enough fuel stocks to last months and provisions are in place to keep imports pouring in, the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Dr Joram Gumbo, said yesterday.
Dr Gumbo blamed some fuel suppliers for creating artificial shortages by holding onto the commodity for speculative purposes in order to profiteer while panic buying was also fuelling the crisis in the country.
Speaking to The Chronicle on the sidelines of the Mining, Engineering and Transport Expo (Mine Entra) at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre in Bulawayo, Dr Gumbo said more fuel was being pumped from Beira.
“We have enough fuel stocks at Msasa and Mabvuku in Harare. The RBZ are doing their best to release forex to oil companies for them to access that fuel. The fuel that I’m saying is at Msasa is enough for the country but it is bonded. It’s brought in by international companies into the country so that our own companies and those that trade within Zimbabwe can access it after paying for it using foreign currency.
That is where the snag is,” he said.
Dr Gumbo said the country only needs 2,5 million litres of diesel and 1, 5 million litres of petrol per day .
“As I speak now we have enough fuel stocks to last us well into the coming months and also there is pumping still going on between Harare and Beira so definitely there is no need to panic as far as the product is concerned. People must be patient enough to allow the periodic releases of forex which are being done by the RBZ so that we can cover this gap that has been created,” he said.
Dr Gumbo said panic buying and hoarding by some fuel companies was creating the crisis being experienced countrywide.
“From my own point of view, the fuel is there but there is a lot of panic buying which has already been fuelled by social media and also by the hoarding that is taking place by some of our companies.
“Some of the oil companies are holding onto the fuel for speculative purposes in the hope that the prices will go up and they can then sell and make a profit which is very unfair but the fuel stocks in the country are adequate”, he said.
“What has also happened is that some oil companies are now restricting fuel to their customers whom they would have pre-sold coupons particularly for companies that sell coupons. That is also causing discord in the provision of fuel in the country”.
Dr Gumbo appealed to fuel companies to release fuel to the market.
“They cause a lot of panic. When there is that kind of restriction, people tend to believe that there are no stocks of fuel in the country. Yes, we could have been having problems of accessing it through forex as required but Government is doing the best it can to make sure it provides the forex that is required for fuel,” he said.
Dr Gumbo said the RBZ announced that it had released $41 million into the market which is quite a jump from the $20 million that they have been providing weekly.
Yesterday, there were long queues at several service stations in Bulawayo with commuter omnibuses constituting the bulk of the vehicles requiring fuel amid fears of a transport crisis. Some kombis have reportedly hiked fares from 50 cents to between 75 cents and $1. — @AuxiliaK