21 November 2012

Namibia: Motorists in North Opt for Cheap Angolan Fuel

MOTORISTS in the north-central regions bordering Angola are filling their vehicles in Angola because of high fuel prices in Namibia.

Fuel prices in Angola are about half of what is charged in Namibia.

Santa Clara, just across the border from Oshikango, has become the favourite destination for those opting for cheaper Angolan fuel.

A taxi driver The Namibian spoke to said he filled his 50-litre tank for N$260 at Santa Clara, while it would cost him N$538 for unleaded fuel at Oshakati.

The same taxi driver said that he filled up his bakkie with N$600 in Angola, while it cost him N$900 at home.

Last week fuel prices in Namibia again went up by 19 and 20 cents per litre for leaded and unleaded petrol and 40 cents for diesel.

The Walvis Bay price, the cheapest in the country, for leaded fuel is N$10,34, while unleaded goes for N$10,47 and diesel for N$11,04.

Filling station owners in towns such as Ondangwa and Oshakati are starting to feel the pinch as a result of motorists crossing the border to buy fuel for their cars.

Willem Archer, the manager of Okapana Service Station at Ondangwa, said since Namibians started to fill their vehicles in Angola his business has shown a decline.

He said taxi and truck owners buy just enough fuel at his station to take them across the border to fill up at Santa Clara.

"Definitely, we are in a big problem. We are losing business because of this," Archer said.

The area manager of Shali Garage, Fericky Petrus, echoed the same sentiment.

Deon Nagel of Oneshila Service Station at Oshakati and Lelie Nunes of the Ongwediva Service Station said they had not experience any decline in their business.

"We are functioning as usual and do not experience problems," Nunes said.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy has expressed concern over the increasing use of Angolan fuel by motorists in the north-central regions, saying that it would damage their vehicles in the long run.

The ministry's public relations officer in the ministry, Lydia Amutenya, told The Namibian that they had warned motorists against the danger of using Angolan fuel on NBC Oshiwambo Radio.

She said the fuel sold in Angola has a high sulphur content, which is not good for the lifespan of vehicle engines.

Despite the risks involved, motorists say Namibian prices have become unaffordable.

They also say that they have been using Angolan fuel for a long time and have not experienced any engine problems.

Also of worry to the Ministry of Mines and Energy is some individuals who not only fill up their cars, but are also bringing in fuel in cans and drums without paying import duty.

"Nobody knows how much fuel is imported in this way. Really something has to be done and we are again going to NBC Oshiwambo Radio to tell these people that what they are doing is wrong," Amutenya said.

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