Zanzibar has been hit by a week-long shortage of fuel forcing drivers to abandon their vehicles and walk to office.
A survey by The Guardian has established that many filling stations had suspended services for lack of fuel, affecting a number of social economic activities in the island.
Currently bus fares to and from the rural areas have gone up making prices of other items including fish and fruits to also shoot up.
A random survey has showed that there has been a sharp decrease of vehicles on roads with owners of vehicles buying fuel from the passages at a high price.
The illegal vendors have been selling fuel at between 3,500/- and 4000/- per litre of petrol up from 2000/- according to the Energy and Water Utility Regulatory Authority (EWURA) indicative price.
Report says fuel scarcity in the area has been attributed to a decision by the government to establish the bulk procurement system in importing of fuel in the country.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, United Petroleum manager, Collins Chemngorem, said the shortage might come to an end on Saturday or Monday after their ships bring in supplies from Dar es Salaam.
He said his company expected to get 2.3 million litres of diesel litres and 1.3 million litres of petrol.
He told consumers that the regulators directives to petroleum marketing companies in the country required them to purchase the product through the bulk procurement system every two months.
The director expressed disappointment by the government decision to prohibit ship to ship operation (STS) in the ocean, which according to him reduced fuel expenses in the country.
“We received fuel from ships from the Gulf but unfortunately the government decided to ban the system in a bid to control illegal trading of fuel,” he said.
The director said the fuel crisis in Zanzibar will end only when the governments of Zanzibar and Union agree that the company that won the tender and Ewura agree that fuel which is destined for Zanzibar is shipped directly there instead of Dar es Salaam.
He said Zanzibar has been using only 6million litres per month which according to him is a great loss to fuel companies that import the commodity directly from the United Arab Emirates, with one ship spending 60m/- as transportation costs.
But Zanzibar’s Infrastructure and Communication minister, Hamad Masoud Hamad said Zanzibar Marine Authority (ZMA) has been forced to ban importation of fuel using ship to ship operation due to smuggling.
He said the services were banned long ago to put in place a new and better system that will help to control illegal fuel trade which has been giving the government losses of 300million every month.
But some of the residents said the government was not supposed to stop the services and instead was supposed to fight illegal fuel business.
The Bishop elect of the Anglican Church in Zanzibar, Michael Hafidh said time has come for the government to issue a statement on the scarcity.
He said the move by the government to be silent while people are suffering was not conducive because it was affecting many economic activities.
The commissioner of the Zanzibar Revenue Board Mohamed Hashim Ismail was not ready to say anything on the matter.
The Guardian made efforts to contact Ewura official but their mobile phone went unanswered.
Currently the government is using bulk procurement system to import fuel.
The Augusta Energy SA Geneva company won the tender to import 540,000 metric tonnes of oil under bulk procurement system (BPS), against other four contenders at a premium price of USD 58.8 per tonne.
The total consignment is supposed to cater for two months of January and February and will be offloading capacity at the Kurasini Oil Jetty (KOJ).
When contacted for comment, the Ewura’s senior communication and public relations officer Wilfred Mwakalosi said: “Ewura operates on the mainland alone and not in Zanzibar. Even this bulk procurement system is only for the mainland.”