Zim pumps run dry as fuel bills remain unpaid

Industry, commerce, commuters and Zimbabwe’s all-important agricultural sector have been hit hard by the refusal of fuel suppliers to re-open their taps unless the government pays its bills.

According to reports from Harare, queues of cars, taxis and trucks are snaking all over town, eager to refuel from pumps that are fast running dry.

Of the big four fuel brands, only Total is said to have significant supplies with Engen, Puma and Zuva all increasingly turning away traffic.

The government has since announced that they have released $60m in emergency payment as demand starts to escalate ahead of the festive season.

Adding to the mounting frustration and anxiety of Zim residents is the knowledge that the price of fuel elsewhere in the SADC region is decreasing.

In the meantime government is trying to quell fears of pumps being empty by Christmas by addressing the symptoms, and not the cause, of the current crisis.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba, said the country’s economic re-growth and comparatively low fuel prices had caused an unsustainable rise in consumption.

But word from suppliers is that the shortage of forex in Zim has left the government in dire straits and incapable of settling its dues with distributors.

“Government is in arrears on its payments, and so suppliers are refusing to release fuel until it has settled what it owes,” a source said.

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