ZIMBABWE’S economic challenges continue to mount with key towns, Beitbridge and Victoria Falls, running out of fuel.
BY REX MPHISA
The fuel shortage comes at a time the country is facing a wave of price increases, which observers say are linked to foreign currency shortfalls.
Motorists in Beitbridge, sub-Saharan Africa’s busiest port, have been sourcing fuel from the black market for the past couple of days as all the nine service stations in the border town have run dry.
Fuel vendors in Beitbridge cashed in on the shortage, with most of them getting supplies from South Africa’s border town, Musina selling two litres for at least $3 at almost every street corner in Dulivhadzimo high-density suburb.
In the Harare, most fuel stations have had erratic supplies of diesel, while petrol has mostly been available.
This was amid reports that haulage truckers were siphoning diesel from Zimbabwe, opting to refuel locally as opposed to South Africa where prices have gone up.
Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority chief executive Engineer Gloria Magombo said she was only learning of the shortages and would investigate.
“I am looking into the issues raised and will respond once I have feedback from most fuel companies. A few have indicated logistical challenges, including increased demand for Beitbridge,” she said.
A haulage truck driver of a South African company said ever since fuel prices rose in that country, they have had instructions to refuel at Beitbridge.
Diesel in Zimbabwe costs around $1,27 a litre and the same volume costs R16 in South Africa which is an equivalent of $1,60.
Petrol costs the same amount, but the difference is that the South African fuel is not blended and reportedly not harmful to vehicles unlike the local with 20% ethanol reducing engine life.
“I refuel at Beitbridge and I am able to go to Durban, proceed to the Democratic Republic of Congo and come back to refuel at Beitbridge,” said the driver who asked for anonymity.
Long queues of trucks refuelling at Beitbridge are common sight in the industrial area where there are bulk fuel outlets.