THE Petroleum Transporters Association of Zambia (PTAZ) has pledged to resolve any outstanding labour challenges so that the shortage of fuel experienced in the last few days is not repeated.

And the Zambia Police has commended the tanker drivers for resuming their operations and being peaceful during their work boycott which resulted into fuel shortage in Lusaka as most filling stations ran out of the commodity during the week.

The association has praised the Ministry of Energy and Water Development for the mature manner in which it has handled the stand-off with Governmnet over fuel transportation

PTAZ secretary general Benson Tembo told the Daily Nation yesterday that it was unfortunate that successive governments had failed to address the challenges that faced transporters by continually awarding contracts to foreign companies to import fuel into the country.

Mr. Tembo said for a long time now, local transporters have been relegated to local contracts to transport fuel when they had the capacity to import fuel from outside the country.

He said as a result of being overlooked by governments, most companies had failed to expand their businesses while some of them had folded up as a result of lack of sustainable contracts.

Mr Tembo said Energy Minister Dora Siliya’s approach to resolving the transporters’ and drivers’ concerns provided a glimmer of hope that a conclusion would soon be found as she had demonstrated Government’s willingness to build capacity among transporters in the energy sector in Zambia.

He said the transporters wanted the outstanding issues over the importation of fuel into the country and the concerns raised by the drivers to be resolved so that the two protests that characterised Lusaka within a space of three months could be sorted out as they had a huge effect on the economy.

He said the association had a fruitful meeting with permanent secretaries from the ministries of Labour and Energy yesterday and was optimistic that all outstanding issues would be resolved because Ms. Siliya was willingness to resolve the matter amicably.

“We are extremely happy with the Ministry of Energy so far because Madam Siliya has shown that she is ready to resolve this matter once and for all and that is what we also want. She has handled the standoff so well and this shows that Government is willing to build capacity of the local transporters in the importation and transportation of fuel in the country,” Mr. Tembo said.

Meanwhile, police have commended the tanker drivers for resuming their operations and being peaceful during the stand-off which resulted into the fuel shortage in Lusaka.

In a statement made available to the Daily Nation yesterday, Police Inspector General Kakoma Kanganja noted that despite work stoppage, the drivers did not resort to violence but remained peaceful.

He said the police would always protect those who were peaceful in their quest to air their grievances but urged the drivers to engage their union in airing their grievances as abrupt work stoppages had a huge impact on the economy.

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