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Fuel shortages persist as govt battles to secure forex

Fuel shortages are likely to persist as government is struggling to secure foreign currency to purchase the precious liquid.

Despite government assurances that there were enough stocks, it was a different picture in Bulawayo this week as long winding queues could be seen at most fueling stations dotted across the city.

The situation has forced public transport operators to hike fares by as much as 100 percent.

Speaking at the 2018 Mine Entra conference, Minister of Energy and Power Development, Dr Joram Gumbo admitted the country did not have US dollars to buy fuel.

“Pertaining to the fuel situation in the country we are correct and maintain we are right that there is fuel in the country and lots of it,” said Minister Gumbo.

“Everybody is aware there are international countries that bring fuel into the country and it is there in bond, not bond notes, bond, stored in Masasa and Mabvuku.

“But for you to access that fuel as a company you now need to be given new extra-large foreign currency by RBZ”.

Dr Gumbo said Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) used to allocate US$10 million a week for the provision of fuel and because demand went up, the amount increased to US$20 million a week, and later doubled to US$41 million.

“Of late the RBZ upped to the latest amount, which we all aware of as we read about it, saw it on television and on various media channels that it is now $41 million for the fuel companies

to access the fuel, that is the way it happens,” the minister said.

“Fuel companies in Zimbabwe now have to access fuel that is in bond which is brought in by international companies.

“The fuel companies and the international companies that are operating in the country now have to pay US dollars to go and access that fuel in Masasa and Mabvuku  so that end of day, you have fuel at your  doorstep. That’s the way it is”.

The energy minister said challenges as to why the country was having difficulty in accessing foreign currency are related to production.

“The challenges are known we need a lot of production, we need to support the mining sector agriculture sector so that we have exports. It is through exports and other production sectors that we won’t have a problem,” he said.

Dr Gumbo said the RBZ was squeezed for cash as it had to provide foreign currency to other key economic sectors.

“It’s not going to be easy but that is the way. We don’t have other commodities which are necessary for our day to day longevity such as wheat, so in order to buy your bread which is now becoming expensive you need help. RBZ is now squeezed to provide forex for those commodities which we can’t produce,” he said.

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