ENERGY Minister Matthew Nkhuwa says the fuel shortage in the country will be normalized within the next week.
And Nkhuwa says the shortage has been engineered by a few disgruntled truckers adding that the transporting associations that have a partnership with the government have no grievances with their employers.
Nkhuwa was responding to a written question from Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo who wanted to know what the cause of the sudden erratic supply of fuel was, and what urgent measures government had put in place to address the crisis.
Nkhuwa said said among the measures government had put in place was police escort for fuel tankers.
“The Ministry of Energy in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs is offering police escort to tankers for security and speedy delivery of products to their destinations. Government remains resolute in ensuring that there is security of supply of fuel in the country. Government has put in place the following medium term measures (i) enhancing logistical arrangements regarding the importation of crude oil to ensure steady supply; (ii) government has given all OMCs waivers to import petroleum products; (iii) government will continue to enhance private sector participation by ensuring that citizen owned companies participate in petroleum supply chain,” Nkhuwa said.
“In long term measures, the rehabilitation of the TAZAMA pipeline in order to improve its operational capacity; (ii) expanding construction of provincial fuel depots in all provinces will enhance fuel storage reserves; (iii) construction of finished petroleum products pipeline which will enhance our ability to meet growing demand of petroleum products in Zambia, notably the two projects that have reached the advanced discussions as the Tanzania-Zambia finished petroleum pipeline and the Angola-Zambia refined petroleum multi-product and natural gas pipeline.”
Asked by Nkeyema UPND member of parliament Kapelwa Mbangweta when the situation was expected to normalise, Nkhuwa said: “it should normalize in the next one week.”
And asked by Nkombo on what grievances the fuel transporters had put forward, Nkhuwa said government did not own trucks.
“The situation is that we don’t own trucks as government Mr Speaker, therefore we don’t have grievances with the truck drivers. The trucks belong to private transporters who transport and I think they have got grievances with their employers. It’s not government Mr Speaker,” he responded.
Asked by Kantanshi independent member of parliament Anthony Mumba if the relationship between the government and the OMCs did not have an effect on the economy, Nkhuwa said the relationship was intact and that the confusion was being caused by a few disgruntled individuals.
“Mr Speaker through the Ministry of Transport and Communication, there are three truck associations that operate in this sector and they are recognized by the government. And jointly, me and the Minister of Transport and Communication did engage these unions and they don’t have a problem with the government. It’s just a few disgruntled people that started stopping trucks and stoning them and picketing. In short, the associations that are there don’t have a dispute with the government or they don’t have a dispute with their employers. They haven’t declared any disputes,” said Nkhuwa.