Fuel service stations are getting the normal supplies of a combined eight million litres daily, but panic buying by motorists in anticipation of a price increase and the festive season have meant that queues continue to exist, a Cabinet minister has said.
In an interview yesterday, Energy and Power Development Minister Joram Gumbo indicated that there were enough fuel stocks at Msasa fuel depot, and there was no need for motorists to panic.
"There is an unprecedented demand of fuel in the country," he said. "What baffles me is fuel companies are getting the normal supplies, but there are unending queues. The queues are, however, evidence that there is indeed fuel in the country.
"We require 4,1 million litres of diesel per day and 3,8 million litres of petrol a day and that is what the fuel companies are getting. We had asked the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to raise the foreign currency allocation to $32 million per week to meet the rising demand up from the $20 million it was previously allocating, but access to forex has been a challenge."
Dr Gumbo said there was sufficient fuel in the country at Msasa and Mabvuku depots, but the fuel comes into the country bonded and is only accessed after producing foreign currency.
He said the demand may have been fuelled by the anticipation of a price hike, farming season preparations and the festive season.
As of yesterday, long winding queues could be seen at filling stations in Harare's central business district as fuel tankers continued to make deliveries.
Some fuel service stations were without fuel, while others had resorted to rationing. The situation is expected to ease after Government released US$60 million on Friday towards procurement of fuel to mitigate current shortages.
Some unscrupulous fuel dealers are charging more than double the gazetted pump price.
Last Friday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister Energy Mutodi said the availed funds would improve supplies considerably.
"Government has released some funds towards alleviating the current crisis which, however, will require constant monitoring as the US$60 million released will only last three weeks given the country's US$20 million per week fuel requirement," said Deputy Minister Mutodi.
The country is constrained in terms of foreign currency, while there are many competing demands on the available foreign currency.
Government has several instruments in place with fuel suppliers such as Sakunda Holdings, Independent Petroleum Group (IPG), Glencore, Engen and Total.
Last week, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said Government was arranging enough financing for the supply of fuel and the temporary stockouts in the country will end in the next few days.