Fuel crisis: Queue brawls increase

Getting fuel in Zimbabwe’s capital can now cost you a bloodied nose, well at least if the sporadic brawls breaking out at fuel stations around Harare are anything to go by.

This comes as government is struggling to find a lasting solution to the crisis with most fuel stations around the country running dry as long queues emerge occasioned by intermittent supplies of fuel.

“The thing is, the erratic supply of fuel has opened the door for small groups to make a quick buck,” says a Harare petrol attendant.

“Fights at the pump are now becoming common place. Some individuals start queuing before the place is open and then sell off their spot to over 10 motorists. The guards at some fuel stations are also involved. It’s a circus.”

Energy and Development minister Jorum Gumbo insist government is doing all it can to ensure that fuel is both available and accessible, however, the the crux of the problem emanates from our lack of foreign currency

“Let me say that the Ministry of Energy and Power Development’s main mandate is to engage companies outside the country that produce oil so that it can be brought into the country,” Gumbo told legislators in Parliament on Wednesday when the matter was brought up.

“Once the oil is within the country, there would be need of foreign currency that should be used by companies such as Total, Zuva and Engen to go and then buy that oil because they would have been brought into the country in RTGS$.  So, that is the duty of Ministry of Finance and Economic Development; it has nothing to do with my Ministry but it is my hope once the economic situation improves, the foreign currency will be available.”

Gumbo said that while foreign currency remained a concern for oil companies to access the fuel that will be stored in the bond warehouse for it to be available in filling stations, government was working around the clock to resolve the situation, insisting the crisis should be over in a couple of days’ time.

“Before I came into the august House I talked to the Reserve Bank Governor.  He informed me that he had released funds and the five big companies in the country such as ZUVA, Engen and Sakhunda which is Puma have started procuring oils.  The ACs have begun transporting fuel to service stations.  We are hoping that by the end of the day, tomorrow and the following days, fuel will be available in the country,” he said.

Gumbo added that Zimbabwe currently has “month’s supply of petrol in the country” which includes “about two million in Mabvuku and Msasa.  We have diesel in bond warehouse that can last for 23 days.”

“We also have the pipeline in Beira pumping fuel into the country.  Therefore, what we are facing are not challenges of fuel in the country but the shortage of foreign currency that is affecting the fuel situation to enable service stations to continue getting forex from the RBZ in order to feed the service stations.”