HARARE – There is no immediate relief for motorists and transport operators despite government’s shocking fuel hikes as long and winding queues continue to stalk several garages which are struggling to stock the much-sought products.
This comes as government insists that the country has enough fuel supplies.
“I have explained this over and over again, my role is to facilitate the bringing in of fuel into the country and as far as I am concerned I have played my part and there is enough fuel.
“If you go and check at Mabvuku and Msasa depots there is enough fuel, but these local fuel suppliers cannot access the fuel before making a payment which is required in foreign currency.
“The problem goes back to John Mangudya (the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor) who has clearly said he used to pay out US$20 million per week for fuel but now the figures have gone up.
“He says he now has to pay out between US$30 million and US$32 million and the central bank is struggling. It’s a national problem, not even a problem of the bank.
“There is no economic activity and we need to export in order to access more foreign currency,” Transport minister Joram Gumbo told the Daily News on Sunday.
Government recently increased almost three-fold the prices of petrol and diesel in a move which sparked deadly riots witnessed across several cities and towns last week.
The shocking fuel increases were announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa himself — ahead of his much criticised trip to Eastern Europe.
“Compounded by rampant illegal currency and fuel trading activities, government has today decided on the following corrective measures … with effect from tonight, a fuel pump price of $3,11 per litre for diesel and $3,31 for petrol will come into effect,” Mnangagwa said.
“The prices are predicated on the ruling official exchange rate of 1:1 between the bond note and the united States dollar, and also on the need to keep fuel retailers viable,” he added.
Yesterday some of the motorists who had endured long hours in fuel queues, told the Daily News on Sunday that the price hikes had not improved supplies as garages continued to have erratic deliveries.
“Even after implementing the agonising price hikes that we have since accepted, the situation remains the same at these service stations.
“We wish the commodity could be availed at all garages to make the situation better. At times we are spending the whole day queuing for nothing,” lamented 41-year-old Clemence Chimuzinda of Harare.
Another Harare motorist Tichaona Mudzurandende said despite having to pay more for the commodity, he was still scouring for fuel.
“It’s still the same. I have been to four different service stations since early in the morning and I have been queuing for nothing. Supplies have been exhausted while people are waiting in the queues.
“The price hike…has clearly failed and government needs to find another way to solve the fuel problem. I used to pay $40 for a full tank but now I need about $140.
“Maybe if foreign currency is availed the problem will disappear. Right now I should be at work and attending lectures afterwards,”Mudzurandende said.
The acute fuel shortages have seen many passengers struggling to get transport to and from work, as well as other destinations.
This, coupled with steep transport fares, has left thousands of commuters stranded — forcing many people to hitch precarious rides on lorries and pick-up trucks.
Last week, several people were killed and hundreds others severely injured when protesters clashed with security forces during the three-day strike called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
The strike was triggered by the steep fuel price hikes which came hardly two months after government had introduced the unpopular two cents per dollar transaction tax which economists say worsened the country’s economic crisis.
Zimbabwe is in the middle of a huge economic crisis which has spawned several shortages in the economy including those of fuel, critical medicines, foreign currency and basic consumer goods.