Gaborone — Batswana have been cautioned against stockpiling of fuel amid the current fuel supply challenges faced by the country.
The caution comes in the wake of unprecedented demand for fuel in recent days believed to have gone up three fold thereby over stripping supply and exacerbating queues at commercial fuel outlets.
In an interview, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Mr Lefoko Moagi said in the process of queuing for fuel, COVID-19 protocols were not observed.
Mr Moagi said supply of fuel from South Africa was partly affected by vandalism of some refineries which were now performing below capacity.
"In any industrial setup, when production capacity is not met, it affects the whole conveyer belt of supply chain, that is why we are in this kind of setup," he stated.
He said while government was making some contingency plans to source fuel from alternatives sources in Mozambique and Namibia, Batswana should remain calm and not panic.
"We have recently experienced a supply/demand mismatch caused by panic buying by motorists, which worsens the situation. I want to advise Batswana that they should only fuel their vehicles and avoid stockpiling it at home due to safety risks," he said.
He said panic buying or stockpiling could also encourage illegal trading of fuel that was against Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) regulations.
Mr Moagi said he was aware that social media was awash with reports about fuel shortage but stressed that the public should rely on official communication.
Currently, he explained, there were no prompt fuel updates due to the ever evolving scenarios as the industry involved a long supply chain with different players."If all of these things are not in sync, one affects the other, hence has effect on the turnaround time of fuel delivery," he stated.
Meanwhile a press release from the ministry says supply chains have been disrupted hence there were challenges meeting the demand, according oil marketing companies operating in Botswana.
Over 90 per cent of Botswana fuel is supplied by the private sector while Botswana Oil Limited, which is government's arm in the oil sector, imports limited volumes for strategic stocks and commercial stocks based on orders from oil companies. The release states that government has so far released 30.8 million litres of combined strategic and commercial stocks to but demand still exceeds supply as panic buying has been a major contributor to the rapid depletion of fuel in filling stations.
"The prevalent use of jerry cans is also a concern as it promotes the hoarding of fuel and unsafe storage practices," states the release.
Meanwhile BERA has warned the public about the danger and illicit practices emanating from the handling and use of petroleum products.
A press release from the authority states that due to shortages being experienced, there was likelihood of mishandling and unsafe practices, illicit trading of fuel.
BERA therefore encourages the public to take precautions when dealing with petroleum products as they are highly flammable.
Any person found selling fuel without a license will be liable to a fine in terms of Section 34 of the BERA Act, warns the release.BOPA
<i>Source : BOPA</i>