By Takunda Mandura
Energy and Power Development Minister Joram Gumbo says fuel is readily available in the country but is in bonded storage and would require foreign currency to access it.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing fuel challenges since the last quarter of 2018 a development which saw queues resurfacing at most service stations across the country.
Even an over 150 percent increment imposed on fuel by the government has not done much to undo queues at filling stations.
However, addressing the media, Minister Gumbo said the fuel sector has been given first priority by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in terms of foreign currency allocations.
“Availability of product is in bond and upon payment of forex. All we need is to make forex accessible.
“The demand for forex is not only for the ministry but we have been given number one priority by his Excellency, health, mining and other sectors require forex also,” he said.
The minister took the opportunity to explain how the system works for the fuel to be released from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOIC) to service stations and eventually to consumers.
“What it means is that even if there are facilities and enough stocks inland but in bond, but no payment to the supplier has been made, then there are no releases of the bonded stock and local fuel companies cannot supply fuel to service stations.
“Product under different facilities is released to various fuel companies who make payments by RTGS. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will pay fuel suppliers in forex at agreed intervals,” he said.
The Energy Minister also urged people to desist from panic buying adding that this is resulting in unnecessarily increased fuel demand in the economy.
“Currently we need about 7,6 million litres of both diesel and petrol as compare to 1,9 million litres which were required in April 2018, if people panic and start hoarding fuel, they are actually putting unnecessary pressure on the monetary authorities to look for foreign currency,” said Gumbo
Asked about how the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) was getting its fuel allocations, Minister Gumbo said: “Those buses are buying fuel like any other buses from the different service station across the country”.