Fuel queues have resurfaced in Harare with motorists and commuter omnibus operators spending long hours in queues, while some transport providers have been grounded due to fuel shortages, Great Dyke News 24 can report.
A number of commuter omnibus operators are now taking advantage of the situation to hike fares, while Zupco buses are overwhelmed in many suburbs of Harare, leaving thousands of commuters stranded.
A survey conducted by Great Dyke News 24 today reveals that diesel appears to be the more affected commodity that continues to be sold at a premium on the black market.
Speaking to Great Dyke News 24 in the capital today, a number of motorists said that due to the shortage of fuel the number of motor vehicles on the roads has been reduced, adversely affecting production in all sectors of the economy especially the delivery of goods and services.
“As you can see we have three cars from one company joining the same queue, we have been here since 6 am and there is no hope that we can access the fuel since we are about three kilometers away from the pump.
“This situation is affecting our production, and we doubt if this is going to improve any time soon. Something really needs to be done as soon as possible,” said Tinashe Rinomhota.
“As you know time is money when it comes to business. l was supposed to deliver these products to the market (stationery) in the morning and my tank is almost empty. l was supposed to deliver about 8000 counter books in Marondera before lunchtime but now its around 10 am. l’m still in the queue.
” l doubt if l can be able to access the fuel before 5 pm since l am about 3 kilometers away from the pump,” said one employee who preferred anonymity.
The fuel crisis has put a heavy burden on the commuter. Also, the public transport system has all but collapsed since January forcing commuters to spend long hours in queues. As a result, many commuters report to work late, leave home very early and arrive home very late. They are left with limited time for their families.
“If you heard cases of taxi divers collapsing while driving, it’s because of this situation. We spend most of the time in fuel queues and we start working around 6 pm till the following day. Most taxi drivers die because of fatigue and stress, the government must do something,” said Patrick Chidau a taxi driver.
The fuel crisis has given birth to a black market trade, forcing the price of fuel to shoot up to US$2.50 per litre. Some commuter omnibus operators, who have easy access to fuel, drain it from their motor vehicles and sell it at exorbitant prices to desperate motorists and business people.
“Fuel is only accessible at black markets and it’s costing about US$25 per 10 litres and we need more than that (10 litres) for us to operate on a daily basis. Given the exchange rate of US$10 being equivalent to ZWL$250, imagine how much money do we spend for fuel only. What about mealie meal and other goods?” added Chidau.
Meanwhile Trafigura Pte Limited has parted ways with its Zimbabwean partners Sakunda Holdings owned by businessman Mr Kuda Tagwirei.
Trafigura Pte Limited now owns 100 percent of Trafigura Zimbabwe after acquiring Sakunda Holdings’ 51 percent stake.
Trafigura Zimbabwe supplies fuel through Puma, Redan and Sakunda service stations and reportedly has interests in the Feruka Oil pipeline.
The IMF has privately warned Zimbabwe that state payouts to a company linked to global commodities trader Trafigura were pushing the shortages-plagued economy to the brink, reviving fears of corruption at the highest level of government.
Trafigura Pte, which is headquartered in Switzerland, held a minority 49 percent stake in Trafigura Zimbabwe through Puma Energy, while Sakunda Petroleum had the controlling stake of 51 percent, in line with local content laws that applied at the time of the investment.
In a telephone interview with Great Dyke News 24, Minister of Energy and Power Development Advocate Fortune Chasi blamed fuel stations for channeling fuel to the black market and leaving their facilities dry.
“We continue to look for fuel all the time to make sure that there are no queues.
“Sometimes we have some challenges with LC (Letters of Credit).Some service stations take time to renew them and that will be beyond our control.
“We really wish if each company could get their fuel in time before service stations go dry but from time to time we face challenges.
“But you also know that they are many things happening in the sector now. Some service stations claim that they have no fuel while channelling it to the black market and it’s really difficult for us to be at every service station to monitor,” he said.
Now the question is whats needs to done for the fuel situation in Zimbabwe change? Give your opinions or comments on Great Dyke News 24.