Energy and Power Development minister Joram Gumbo yesterday said the fuel situation in the country was “steadily improving”, although the start of the agriculture season presented a challenge as demand would increase.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Gumbo told journalists in Harare that his ministry was concerned with parallel market dealers who were buying fuel from service stations and reselling it at a premium, thereby causing artificial shortages.
“I had a meeting with oil companies last week and we agreed that the issue of the black market needed our urgent attention. We noted that the informal traders are using drums and jerry cans to hoard fuel and resell at higher prices,” he said.
“This was depriving those who want to use it genuinely and we had to take a decision of saying let us avoid selling fuel to people with jerry cans so that everyone can have something to use. This measure is temporary. We are only trying to manage the situation, discourage the use of the informal sector as well as protect our people from abuse.”
In the past weeks, long fuel queues have characterised most urban areas, as service stations have run dry largely due to shortage of foreign currency.
Gumbo said his ministry was aware that most farmers, hospitals and schools get their fuel in drums and he had instructed fuel dealers not to turn them away to avoid delays in land preparation.
“We know that our farmers are starting land preparation and require fuel, we have instructed the garages to be cognisant of that fact. What we are against is the idea of hoarding fuel and creating artificial shortages,” he said.
“We don’t tolerate such acts. Let us all buy from service stations and buy knowing that we should not hoard the commodity for the benefit of others. We have told our fuel dealers to assist farmers because it is a productive sector and them too, they must not hoard the fuel or be engaged in acts of sabotage by reselling.”
He said his ministry held talks with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to consider increasing its foreign currency allocation from $20 million to $35 million per week for the procurement of fuel.