Fuel shortage looms

A MASSIVE fuel shortage is looming in the country amid revelations that government has started stocking diesel and petrol for the election campaign.

Sources said the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim), the sole importer of fuel in the country, has been directed to hold on to the fuel that they have imported on behalf of private fuel companies.

A source said government, which is currently thin on resources, plans to divert some of the fuel for use during the elections.

The government does not have the foreign currency to import its own fuel. There were reports this week that the government was buying foreign currency on the parallel market to import fuel.

The news came as it also emerged that millions of United States dollars belonging to mining companies, exporters and non-government agencies have also been diverted by the central bank to fund government operations ahead of the harmonised elections.

Some companies have not received fuel for the past three weeks despite having paid for the product to Noczim.

“Every time we call Noczim there is a different explanation,” said a senior manager with a local private fuel company.

The government has also been dithering on licensing more private fuel companies. Fuel companies are licensed every month. So far only three companies have been licensed by the ministry of Energy and Power Development.

The three companies are Ekaya, Redan Petroleum and Caltex. More than 20 companies are yet to be licensed. The delay in licensing companies has created shortages on the market.

The prices of fuel on the black market jumped to around $28 million a litre as the few companies that have the product try to cash in on the temporary shortages.

Fuel price have also been increasing in United States dollar terms.

Officials at Noczim told businessdigest this week that the parastatal also had a huge backlog on fuel deliveries to the companies.

The few companies that have the fuel are also jittery about government’s plans to control prices of diesel and petrol.

Last week the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) chairman, Godwills Masimirembwa, told businessdigest that the commission was working on plans to control the price of fuel. — Staff Writer.