Government has been challenged to explain the fuel shortage that has hit most parts of the country despite having boosted the country’s fuel storage capacity, says political activist Dante Saunders.
Mr Saunders said in an interview that the fuel shortage reported in some parts of the country was not acceptable because colossal sums of money had been used to build the commissioned storage facility meant to mitigate the challenges of fuel in the country.
He said if the move was meant to boost Zambia’s strategic reserves and thus stabilising fuel prices, there was no need for the country to continue experiencing fuel shortages which he said would easily cause the prices to rise.
“The country has continued to face various challenges in almost all the sectors, and to be precise both the health and agriculture sector is a mess.
“These facilities are said to be used to store fuel sufficient for eight days of national consumption but they are not working because there is no fuel in the country. There is no justification why fuel is so high in Zambia,” he said.
Saunders said the issue of fuel situation in the country left much to be desired, adding the Patriotic Front government had completely failed to manage the country.
He alleged that the oil procurement process was among the worst corruption scandals Zambia has ever witnessed stating that it was not surprising that the country was experiencing a critical shortage of the commodity.
“There is a big problem in this country and there is need for scrutiny because it appears as if the country is running out of almost all resources to run the affairs of the nation,” he said.
He said it was unacceptable for government to accuse oil marketing companies instead of resolving the fuel crisis whose ripple effect was the increase in the prices of other commodities.
But vice president Guy Scott yesterday played down the fuel crisis and was reported as having said that the fuel shortage that has hit Lusaka was a mere setback.
Scott said the shortage was because of ‘panic among the Oil Marketing Companies, and further doubted if Lusaka was experiencing fuel shortages.
He said drivers were not clear over where to take the fuel because the OMC’s have concentrated on delivery to Southern Province where UNWTO was being co-hosted with Zambia hence leaving out other parts of the country.
However motorists in Lusaka confirmed that there was no fuel in almost filling stations, and a check by the Daily Nation revealed that most of the filling stations had run out of the commodity.
Government boosted the country’s fuel storage capacity by eight days following the construction of a 25 million litre capacity fuel storage depot in Lusaka.
Energy minister Christopher Yaluma who commissioned the storage facility indicated that the Lusaka fuel depot was the first of the four depots in the first phase of government’s programme in the construction of provincial fuel depots.
And reports from other parts of the country indicated that motorists were forced to buy the commodity from illegal fuel dealers.