Gaborone — Government has put fuel restrictions in place as the country continues to experience severe shortage of fuel.
Addressing the nation on Thursday, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi said government would review fuel stations' operating hours and ration the sale of fuel as a way of bringing about stability to the supply and demand for fuel.
President Masisi said each car would fuel at a maximum cost of P250, adding that purchase of fuel in jerry cans would be restricted to Thursdays and that there would be no purchasing of petrol in drums or large containers.
The restrictions, he however said, do not apply to emergency and public transport vehicles. He urged the public to give priority to frontline workers at filling stations during 'this difficult time'.
President Masisi encouraged the public to use public transport or the carpooling method, whenever possible, and to walk or cycle as well as be mindful of the speed at which they drove, as speeding also contributed to high fuel consumption.
In this regard, he said government may consider reducing the speed limit on highways, as a temporary measure, until the situation normalises.
President Masisi said government had come up with short and long term solutions aimed at addressing the fuel shortages, which included tapping into the strategic fuel reserves, which normally covered 12 days. He said government was also actively looking for additional importation routes, particularly in Namibia and Mozambique, to help meet the local demand for fuel.
He added that Botswana Oil was currently sourcing fuel through Namibia and Mozambique and that negotiations with importers were at an advanced stage.
He said approximately 90 per cent of fuel consumed in Botswana was sourced from South Africa and the balance came from Mozambique and Namibia.
Dr Masisi said the current fuel shortage was attributed to the surge in demand for both diesel and petrol, putting a strain on the ability to supply after the lifting of the lockdown.
He said most of the local oil companies were, however, getting their agreed allocations, but were unable to get anything more.
This, he said has translated into rationing as South Africa was also failing to meet its local demand.
President Masisi said the breakdown of inland refineries in South Africa had also led to the rationing of fuel to Botswana market.
"Locally, one of our challenges has been that during the lockdown, fuel stock levels of oil companies were very low because there was very little activity due to the movement restrictions and as such they did not replenish their stocks on time," he said.
He said the strike action by truck drivers in South Africa, which occurred on July 7, had also had an impact on the local supply and would continue to do so as long as the strike continued.
He said the truckers' strike action in South Africa was not directed at Botswana truck drivers exclusively, nor was it a reaction to anything happening in Botswana.
President Masisi highlighted that respective ministers and officials were continuously engaging their counterparts in South Africa to find lasting solutions to the prevailing challenges.
He said the local private sector was also on board and in discussions with government to mitigate and find lasting solutions to the problem.
Dr Masisi indicated that rail transport for large amounts of fuel to meet the market demand had its own challenges such as high logistics costs.
"Even if we opted to rely more on Botswana Railways to deliver our fuel, at the moment we would still not get enough as a result of the rationing at the sources," he said.
Further, President Masisi emphasised government's commitment to grow the private sector and empower citizens.
Source : BOPA