A countrywide fuel shortage is looming as reserves have drastically dwindled, with just about three million litres of the commodity held at the Mpika depot, sources have revealed.
But energy permanent secretary Brigadier General Emelda Chola says the government has put in place measures to avert the shortage.
Meanwhile, Dalbit has stopped supplying fuel because the government owes them over US$80 million for the oil supplied previously.
According to Ministry of Energy sources, the shortage has been caused by the delays to secure a letter of credit for crude oil importation following the signing of a new supply contract with IPG of Kuwait, after termination of the earlier contract government had with Gunvor of Switzerland.
Realising that the situation will cause fuel shortages, the government requested Dalbit, a Kenyan supplier of finished products, to cover up the stocks.
But the company, according to sources, refused because the government has not been meeting its obligations in the past four months.
“All fuel stocks are dry, save for the Mpika depot which can only keep three million litres. And we consume about that much per day throughout the country,” said the sources.
“The biggest problem which will bring about this shortage is the fact that we have had problems securing a letter of credit for IPG to bring in crude. So as a stop-gap measure, Dalbit was asked to bring in more of the finished products, but they refused. They have stopped loading because of non-payment the past four months. Right now, they are owed over US$80 million.”
But Brig Gen Chola assured Zambians that there will be no fuel shortage because the government had already put in place measures to have adequate stock.
“We are still okay, measures have been put in place. Have you seen queues? You’ll not have shortages and in fact, if you had to drive to Nakonde, you’ll find a queue of tankers there being cleared. I think you don’t even need to report this because once you report, you’ll alert the nation and so on. You will not have any problems,” said Brig Gen Chola.