Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
FUEL consumption in the country has gone up by 100 percent in recent months, the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Dr Joram Gumbo, said yesterday.
In an interview, Dr Gumbo said the new dispensation had brought about business confidence which has seen a surge in demand for fuel.
He said locals have also imported thousands of vehicles leading to a sharp demand for petrol and diesel.
The Minister said everyday, scores of imported cars are being cleared at the country’s borders, leading to an increase in fuel demand.
Dr Gumbo said some elements were also hoarding fuel for speculative purposes.
“The country has in the past months witnessed a surge in fuel usage. The country is at the moment consuming 4 million litres of diesel up from 2,5 million litres a week while 3 million litres of petrol is being pumped, up from 1,5 million litres per week. This high demand we believe is due to the increase in people doing business in the country due to the Zimbabwe is open for business mantra set by the new dispensation,” he said.
“At the same time the volume of vehicles in the country has increased to unprecedented levels.
“Everyday several vehicles are cleared to enter the country at our borders and they also add to the rise in demand for fuel. We can’t also rule out a few unscrupulous people hoarding fuel for speculative purposes.”
Dr Gumbo’s comments come at a time when there are endless fuel queues across the country.
Some motorists are now resorting to the black market where the commodity is sold at a higher price with some dealers demanding payment in foreign currency.
Dr Gumbo said fuel shortages will be a thing of the past soon.
He said owing to the increase in demand for fuel on the market, the RBZ’s weekly allocation to petroleum companies for procurement of the commodity will increase to about $35 million per week.
The Government was previously allocating $20 million for fuel every week.
“The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is going to be providing between $32 million and $35 million per week to fuel companies in order to satisfy the market,” Dr Gumbo said.
He ruled out a hike in the price of fuel in the near future.
“The Government is not going to increase fuel prices in the near future. Our fuel prices remain low in the region but we are cognisant of the suffering of the people. To that effect there won’t be any fuel price increases anytime soon,” he said.
In an effort to address the fuel situation, Government released $17 million for procurement of diesel and petrol on Wednesday last week.
Two weeks ago, Government also provided $40 million for the importation of fuel.