8 February 2018

Cameroon: Fuel Distribution - Filling Stations in Difficulties

One of them has equally run out of cooking gas and lubricants.

Ataxi driver pulls over at an MRS Corlay filling station in Obili, Yaounde on February 4, only to find the pumps are dry. It is 1pm and time for him to refill the car tank and hand over the taxi to the second driver of the day. He curses in anger as he negotiates his way out of the station; "don't start a business when you cannot sustain it." Behind him is another citizen walking away in the opposite direction, looking frustrated with an empty cylinder of cooking gas. Both citizens appear to think that this is the only MRS station without fuel, as the one looking for cooking gas boards a commercial motorbike for Melen where another MRS filling station is located. Whereas sources at other branches of the company in Yaounde tell Cameroon Tribune that all filling stations of the company are in the same situation. "I'll not want to say the company is bankrupt because that is not the official reason given by top management. We have been told there had been some mismanagement of funds and that government owes the company a colossal sum of money. Due to the financial crisis, SONARA has stopped supplying oil to MRS," a source in one of the branches told Cameroon Tribune February 5. Our source also said it has been two years since fuel supply has been unstable and about two months the supply of cooking gas and lubricants have been irregular. We also gathered most employees of MRS have resigned while others are on technical leave. At Mvan, another source that elected anonymity sounded rather positive. It said cooking gas is unavailable at MRS stations because thousands of cylinders have been taken back to the company for checks. Our source also claimed SONARA usually halts supplies at the beginning or end of every year, triggering shortage of fuel in companies that do not import oil and gas from other countries. As regards lubricants, our source indicated that stations that lack them are retailers under a specified supply chain who need to place orders and have them delivered. We were also told eight stations in Yaounde that do not have products are empty because the company is shutting them down to change the retailers. Note however that all but one of the four pumps at the Regional headquarters of the company were equally dry. SOCAEPE seems to be facing similar difficulties as a number of the company's station no longer exist. Sources say it has sold some of its stations to other companies like that of Nkoabang neighbourhood in Yaounde transformed into Neptune. Some of its stations, like the one in the heart of the city of Yaounde, have been abandoned. It is now used by street traders who display their goods thereon.

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