Fuel queues resurface across Zimbabwe

Motorists queue to buy petrol in Harare, Zimbabwe, October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

LONG fuel queues have resurfaced across the country as traffic increased following the easing of the national lockdown measures by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to allow companies to operate.

In a survey carried out by NewsDay yesterday, queues as long as two kilometres had started to form in Harare, Bulawayo, Beitbridge, Gweru and Masvingo with motorists violating social distancing rules introduced to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The development came as the Zimbabwe dollar continues to plunge against the United States dollar on the parallel market, trading at 1:53 as of yesterday.

Fuel dealers, who spoke to this paper said they were failing to restock because their pump price had fallen in value significantly.

”In US$ terms, we are now selling a litre for as paltry as 30 cents yet the price at garages selling in foreign currency is $1 or $1,20,” a Harare fuel dealer said.

“So, we are now overwhelmed by customers yet we can’t afford to access the foreign currency to meet the demand. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has lately been irregular in forex disbursements, so we are buying it on the parallel market to restock.”

Motorists also complained of inconveniences and accused dealers of withholding the fuel in anticipation of a price hike.

”People are stampeding to get to the pump and the overcrowding risks the spread of coronavirus. Garages are saying they don’t have fuel, but we believe they are withholding it expecting higher prices,” said a motorist in Gweru.

Energy minister Fortune Chasi could not be reached for comment. – News Day