20 April 2017

Burundi: Fuel Shortage Sparks Controversy Between Government Authorities Over Cause

The Ministry of Energy and Mining says the shortage of fuel earlier his week was due to a "technical breakdown" that interrupted clearance processes within the Burundi Revenue Authority (OBR), an allegation the Authority denies.

From last Monday till yesterday, many of the fuel pumps around Bujumbura town were dry. Long queues of cars and motorcycles waited for hours at the few stations that were open. Service at fuel stations returned to normalcy this Thursday.

Daniel Mpitabakana, Director of the Fuel department at the Ministry of Energy and Mining, says that connection breakdown that happened on Monday and that hindered the normal course of the OBR activities made it impossible for providers to supply fuel.

"There was a technical breakdown for over four hours [on Monday]", he says. He says when there is such a breakdown, importers cannot do customs clearance and therefore cannot cater fuel to consumers.

He explains that the breakdown goes back to the end of March when another severe shortage of fuel had interrupted activities- especially public and private transport- that rely on fuel.

In a series of tweets on this Thursday, OBR dismissed the claim saying it "is not aware of any connection breakdown of Monday 1April 2017 the Director of the Fuel department is talking about".

Asked after OBR had dismissed his claim, Mpitabakana did not backtrack.

The "technical breakdown" reason, which some see as a pretext, for fuel shortage replaces the "lack of foreign currency" explanation that has been usually used to explain away constant fuel supply disruptions in Burundi over the last months.

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