Regulator warns dealers against creating artificial fuel shortages

Motorists queue to buy petrol in Harare on Monday. Photo: Reuters

HARARE – The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) has warned fuel dealers against creating artificial shortages by limiting supplies or hoarding for speculative purposes.

In a statement issued on Thursday, ZERA also warned the dealers that they risked having their licenses revoked if they sold fuel at prices beyond stipulated ones.

The stipulated price for petrol is 1.41 U.S. dollars.

“Petroleum licensees are hereby warned to cease and desist from such criminal activities as they risk prosecution and cancellation of their licenses. ZERA’s compliance officers are on the ground assessing the situation,” the authority said.

The country has been experiencing erratic fuel supplies for several weeks now because of foreign currency shortages, with motorists enduring long queues at filling stations.

ZERA also discouraged the use of fuel containers, saying that this increased chances of contamination and subsequent damage to motor engines.

Its warning came as the government on Wednesday denied that it had banned the use of containers such as jerry cans for fuel transportation.

The government said it had noted that there were genuine cases where people used containers for onward use but warned people against hoarding the commodity for resale on the black market.

Energy and Power Development Minister Joram Gumbo said the fuel supply situation is improving but remains constrained.

“The nation is assured that (the) government is doing its best to ensure continued supply of fuel throughout the country and, therefore, there is no need for hoarding and panic-buying.

“My ministry notes that there are genuine cases of legitimate customers that include command agriculture and other farmers, owners of grinding mills, schools and hospitals that require fuel for their generators and many other uses, who out of necessity, have to uplift fuel in containers,” he said.

Zimbabwe has a daily consumption of 2.5 million litres of diesel and 1.5 million litres of petrol.