THE Government has assured the nation of adequate fuel supplies during the farming and festive seasons.
Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said the ministry was fully aware of the country’s daily fuel consumption and various efforts have been put in place to ensure sufficient availability of the commodity.
According to statistics from the ministry about four million litres of diesel and 3,1 million litres of petrol are used in the country per day.
“According to the calculations of what we have in the country we have got enough fuel to cover those units of farming and to cover our needs during the festive season. So as far as we are concerned from the ministry’s point of view we have contingency plans to make sure that we have enough fuel to take us through the festive season and the farming season,” said Dr Gumbo.
The country tends to use more fuel during the farming season as farmers embark on land preparations while people tend to travel a lot during the festive seasons.
He said as part of the efforts to cushion the foreign currency allocation from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for the procurement of fuel, the Government has entered into negotiations with the Independent Petroleum Group and one of the world’s largest independent commodity trading houses Trafigura.
“The contingency plan that we have put in place to augment or to complement what Government has put in place through RBZ with regards to the allocation of foreign currency, we have also been able to negotiate some facilities through IPG and Trafigura to provide us with some facilities that will actually see us getting through 18 months, which is about one-and-a- half years to supplement what Government does,” said Dr Gumbo.
RBZ is considering raising foreign currency allocation to petroleum companies from $20 million to around $30 to $35 million per week.
Dr Gumbo said at times fuel shortage was exacerbated by the delay by RBZ to allocate foreign currency to oil companies for the procurement of the commodity.
“What is affecting us at the moment is the provision of forex from the RBZ. While we have got the contingency plans, RBZ has to chip in on a weekly basis to make sure that they provide forex to the oil companies so that they are not disturbed by the lack of flow of uplifting fuel from Msasa to Mabvuku. If that is maintained we have no problem. I know it’s doing its best and at times they delay to allocate the foreign currency because of certain demands from other sectors of our economy who will also be lining up for the forex, which is not in good supply because our production is not really bringing enough foreign currency,” he said.
Last week some service stations in Harare, Bulawayo and some parts of the country ran out of fuel culminating in winding queues at most of the garages resurfacing after three weeks of normality.
The ministry attributed the recent shortages at some service stations to delays in foreign currency allocations.
Over the past two days, fuel stock-outs have been witnessed at some service stations, particularly in Harare.
“The stock-outs emanate from delays in foreign currency allocation. When foreign currency is eventually released, it takes some time to arrange the transport logistics to deliver fuel to the affected service stations,” read part of the statement.
The ministry, however, urged the public to refrain from acts of panic buying and hoarding.
“The country is still constrained in terms of foreign currency, while there are many competing demands on the available foreign currency. The Government notes that the demand for fuel remains high and once again appeals to members of the public to avoid panic buying and hoarding and to use fuel mainly for productive purposes,” reads part of the statement.