By Wilson Pondamali in Kabwe
Kabwe has been hit by a shortage of fuel with only two out of 8 filling stations with the commodity and motorists have expressed frustrations putting the blame on the Michael Sata led PF government saying the government has failed to thoroughly address the fuel demand in the country.
Some residents have also appealed to President Michale Sata to make the oil procurement tenders as transparent as possible as opposed to the current status, where a number of senior party and government officials are being investigated by the Anti-corruption commission (ACC).
And mealie meal is also in short supply while prices have continued to rise with a 25 kg Breakfast bag fetching between K53,000 and K60,000 in the few outlets where it is found.
Some traders have taken advantage of the shortage to increase the prices. The government has been called upon to stabilise the supply, fearing the continued shortage will push the commodity beyond reach of most Zambians.
A check by the watchdog revealed that out of 8 filing stations, only two (Engen and Petrotech) had petrol, with queues of motorists lining up to buy the commodity, while fuel attendants from other filling stations were just selling diesel, whose stocks were said to be stable.
Engen received 19,000 litres and the attendant spoken to said going by the rate it was selling, it may finish within a day.
The two Puma filing stations have not had the commodity since Thursday but sources disclosed that they were expecting a tanker either Sunday or Monday but could not state the quantities expected. At Total the commodity ran out this morning and it is not established as to when the next stocks would be delivered.
Oil procurement in the country has mostly been a source of scandalous dealings by successive governments, and Zambia is said to be one of the countries in the SADCC region with very high fuel prices. Currently the ACC has been investigating PF Secretary General Wynter Kabimba over the oil procurement tenders and despite numerous calls by residents to have the nominated member of parliament and minister of justice suspended to pave way for smooth investigations, President Michale Sata refused to act on what he called ‘mere speculations’.
Meanwhile mealie meal prices have shot up following the shortage that the town has experienced.
On Thursday, all the leading supermarkets had no mealie meal but Shoprite received the commodity yesterday and were rationalising the selling to curb unscupulous dealers who buy and later resale at a higher price. A check at key mealie meal selling outlets, Nissi and WHM supermarkets, Filayi general dealers, Simba milling and the National milling outlets revealed that the commodity was in short supply.
Residents fear that with the festive season around, prices are likely to go up as dealers take advantage of the increased demand and have appealed to government to engage millers to stabilise the supply of the staple food. “the government doesn’t seem to care about us. If this shortage continues the prices will get higher, with the festive season around,” complained a middle aged lady who was found waiting in vain for the commodity at National milling on Friday.