PETROLIUM Transporters Association of Zambia has protested plans by some Oil Marketing Companies to engage international fuel transporters as Government responds to the looming fuel shortage in the country.
PTAZ general secretary Benson Tembo said there was growing concern from local transporters who were aware of the Government’s good will of introducing a waiver of 25 percent import duty on crude fuel, but that some OMCs have been spotted making plans with foreign transporters as opposed to the local fleet.
He said local transporters have been without business following the drying up of the local storage facilities at Mpika, Solwezi and Lusaka respectively, but that plans by OMCs to engage foreign transporters instead of local market suppliers was depriving business for local transporters.
“We appreciate Government’s response in waiving duty on feedstock imports into the country to curb the looming fuel shortage, but what we are concerned about is that some OMCs are seen in discussions with foreign transporters which will render local transporters jobless.
“We are calling on the Government to put it in “black and white” that OMCs must first look to the local transporters unless until we fail to meet demands,” he said. He complained that many local drivers have been marooned at the various TAZAMA storage facilities in anticipation for feedstock but all in vain, and with the anticipated importation, they should be given priority before looking to the foreigners. Mr Tembo explained that so far, all their agreements with Government concerning business trends in the fuel transport industry have worked well except for a few hitches which were still under discussions with relevant bodies.
He explained that there should be no problems from the transporters as long as Government and the OMCs maintained the current relationship and agreements and proposals made on the issues raised during the previous meetings following the unfortunate standoff.
There has been o fuel stock at Mpika, Solwezi and Lusaka TAZAMA Depots which has forced local fuel transporters off the streets in anticipation for heightened of business when Government opens up the orders for importation of feedstock to fill up the country’s stocks.