Queues for fuel have resurfaced in the main urban centres because there were rumours that the price was going up again and also because those with coupons are rushing to redeem them.
This was said yesterday by Energy Minister Joram Gumbo in response to question in the Senate.
Gumbo said people should not panic as the government has made arrangements for the country to have enough fuel for the next two years.
The minister said queues resurfaced after the government encouraged fuel suppliers to concentrate deliveries to rural areas which were badly affected by last month’s disturbances following the fuel price hike of 12 January.
He also said there was a rush to redeem coupons, especially from Puma and Redan as they had a huge backlog.
Q & A:
*HON. SEN. CHIEF NEMBIRE: Thank you Madam President. My question is directed to the Minister of Energy, Hon. Dr. Gumbo. Hon. Minister, we are seeing resurfacing of fuel queues at service stations. What plans do you have so that this will not continue?
*THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. J. GUMBO): I want to thank the Hon. Senator. Yes, it is true that in the past few days from Saturday we started witnessing fuel queues resurfacing. It started when the prices of petrol and diesel had been increased but through social media, there were messages that were sent saying that fuel was going up. That caused panic and people rushed to service stations to hoard fuel and it distorted our cities, Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare. That is when the queues resurfaced in those major towns. There was a distortion.
We wanted fuel to be delivered to the rural areas because during the shutdown period, the fuel tankers could not go far away places. We had encouraged them to concentrate on the outside areas and that is when people speculated that we wanted to increase the fuel price. I want to assure the House that the fuel is there in the country and I was with His Excellency and the Reserve Bank Governor in the morning. They showed me figures of the funds that they gave to the oil companies so that they buy fuel.
I also want all of us as leaders to know that if you see a service station looking as if they are in trouble, that is caused by the owner of the service station. Probably, they are not banking their money, that is why they are facing these challenges but now, these big companies like Puma have long queues. This is because when prices changed, they had sold many coupons to people. We encouraged them to honour initial prices because others were now revaluing the coupons. Puma and Redan are the ones who are in trouble because they have a backlog of the coupons and people want to finish those coupons so that they will engage new businesses. So, we should not be afraid because fuel is there in the country. I was shown the money and also we have money which has been channeled out by our RBZ Governor that for 24 months, our companies will be getting fuel. I can tell you that we were getting our fuel, about 7.5 million litres which was being used but right now, because of the prices, the fuel that we are getting from Msasa and Mabvuku, we are receiving about 9.6 million litres per day which is getting into the country. However, for it to go throughout the country, it is still a challenge, together with those coupons which were channeled out by those companies. That is where the challenge is.