Monday, 15 June 2020

FUEL FACILITY FOR FRONTLINE WORKERS


GOVERNMENT is considering coming up with a special fuel facility for frontline workers who are losing a lot of productive time in fuel queues.

This was said by Energy and Power Development Minister Advocate Fortune Chasi yesterday. Fresh fuel shortages have hit the country and in Bulawayo most service stations have been dry for the past week.

A Chronicle news crew observed yesterday that there were long winding queues at very few service stations which had fuel selling in local currency. Service stations that sell in forex had few vehicles refueling.

Due to the ongoing fuel crisis, illegal fuel dealers continue to thrive in the city with new selling spots sprouting.

Frontline workers who include but are not limited to doctors, nurses, police, the media and security services have seen their work being disrupted by the fuel shortages.

Minister Chasi said Government was considering introducing a fuel facility for those in the frontline for a while, but was still looking into the logistical side of implementing the programme.

“We have actually been looking at how we can possibly be helpful to critical businesses and essential services. Doctors, nurses this is not a conclusive list. We also have the media, police, and others. We are looking into how best we could assist and set up the facility so that they don’t lose productive time, we are just not yet sure about how to go about the logistics of it. It is something that we have been looking at and is under consideration,” he said. 

Minister Chasi said motorists should expect relief as fuel deliveries were expected countrywide with effect from today.

“The current holdings that we have at the moment are 4,2 million cubic metres of fuel at our depot. 4, 2237 million cubic metres, inclusive of 2,4 million litres of diesel and 1,8 million litres of blend. We are trying to raise this to about 6 million cubic metres of fuel. We have put in place some measures to ensure that we have enough supplies and as we speak, we have some fuel on its way to the rest of the country. Shortages must ease,” he said.

“After tomorrow, I think there should be a reasonably good supply of fuel countrywide. We have indeed faced some fuel challenges due to some logistical issues, among other things. The shortage has been a nationwide phenomenon. We are working on logistics to ensure that supplies are delivered across the country.”

Asked on why the country was facing fuel challenges during a lockdown when some sectors of the economy and industry are not yet operational, the Minister said there was increased vehicular traffic in the streets despite the fact that a lockdown was still in place, after some restrictions were eased.

“It’s very difficult to answer that question on why we have fuel shortages during lockdown wen a considerable number of industries are still closed, but people are buying fuel for the various activities that needs fuel, there is a lot of vehicular traffic now also that some lockdown restrictions were eased,” said Minister Chasi.

At some service stations in the city centre, cars were in queues, with motorists only anticipating fuel deliveries. 

At a Puma Service Station at the corner of Joshua Nkomo Street and 15th Avenue, a fight broke out between some motorists after one was accused of helping jump the queue.

There was a group of people standing at the fueling point, monitoring and most were not putting on masks while social distancing was also not being observed.

Although the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority increased pump price of diesel to $24,93 per litre and petrol to $28,96 per litre, demand has remained high.

Prior to the latest price hikes the maximum pump price for diesel was $20,84/litre in Harare and $21/litre for blend while in Bulawayo diesel sold between $21,59 and $22,55/litre while petrol sold for between $21,76 and $23,30/litre.

National Oil Infrastructure Company of Zimbabwe (NOIC) chairperson, Engineer Daniel Mackenzie Ncube, last week told Chronicle that some service stations were diverting the fuel to the black market where they were making more money by selling the product in forex.

Service stations selling fuel in forex in Bulawayo charge between US$1 and US$1,05/litre for diesel and petrol, translating to about $55/litre using the parallel market rate. Chronicle

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