Not again. Just when we were about to believe that the fuel crisis that hit the country last year was now behind us, what with the implementation of the bulk procurement system, we were being rudely slapped with an apparent crisis again.
We say apparent, because preliminary checks show that there should not be any such shortage of fuel at this time, but it is there. A number of Dar es Salaam and upcountry fuel stations on Monday reported having no fuel. Some of them were still without fuel yesterday, while further reports from upcountry spoke of racketeering, with a litre of petrol costing as much as 3,000/-.
On Monday a survey conducted by this paper at various fuel selling points showed that kerosene was the only available product.
The question being asked is why we are experiencing such a shortage at this time, when a fresh tender has just been awarded, assuring the nation of cheaper fuel.
The only answers that our team could elicit from pump attendants was that the shortage could be artificial, largely caused by oil dealers who had failed to take enough stock ensure reliable services during the weekend.
This does not however explain why the shortage was still being experienced yesterday in some fuel stations in Dar es Salaam when the owners had the whole of Monday to replenish stocks, if at all it is true they were caught short at the weekend.
The Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) Principal Communication Officer, Titus Kaguo when contacted on Monday said his office had no official information on the shortage, stressing: “The country has enough stocks.”
However yesterday, EWURA attributed the shortage to what it said were technical hitches at the Kurasini Oil Jetty (KOJ) and interference in the priority berthing system.
Kaguo said some ships carrying heavy fuel, diesel, petrol and Jet 1 had been given priority in discharging their load, causing fuel discharge delays for the bulk procurement vessels, adding that the situation was beyond EWURA’s control.
He has however promised that the situation will stabilise in a matter of two to three days and that EWURA would today meet with oil dealers to assess the situation and take further stabilization measures.
The Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) has however distanced itself from being the cause of any shortage, saying on Friday two vessels docked at Dar es Salaam port and left and that another ship yesterday offloaded 22,373.144 tonnes of diesel and 14,980.537 tonnes of petrol, all of which have been handed to the bulk oil procuring firm.
Given these conflicting explanations, the public is rightly owed a proper explanation of the real cause of the shortage from the authorities. The public needs to kept aware of what exactly is being done to ensure that we see the difference between the situation before and after the introduction of the bulk procurement system.
We cannot over-emphasise the harm that this panic prompting situations is doing toconsumers, the national economy and our security as a nation.