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Fuel price hike sparks public outrage, panic buyingBy Mirriam Chabala and Mukosha Funga on 3 Oct 2018
The Energy Regulation Board (ERB) has hiked the fuel pump prices effective Tuesday, October 2nd evening, citing international market prices and the falling Kwacha.
But the public has expressed outrage at the development, with some citizens asking the whereabouts of the much talked about “Cheap Saudi Oil” which government announced.
Meanwhile, former chief government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili says “this is the beginning of the PF’s end”.
In a statement, ERB board chairman Raymond Mpundu announced that the prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene had been adjusted by K2.31, K2.64 and K2.49 per litre, effectively making low sulphur diesel the most expensive at about K17 per litter.
Mpundu hastened that the increment was long overdue, adding that the imported Saudi Arabia fuel only lasted 13 days for petrol and six days petrol.
“The Energy Regulation Board has reviewed the current petroleum feedstock cargo together with the finished products component of the consignment, and determined that there would be an upward adjustment in prices per litre by K2.31 for Petrol, K2.64 for Diesel and K2.49 for Kerosene, due to changes in the fundamentals that determine fuel prices. The key drivers for this fuel price review are the international oil pices and the exchange rate of the Kwacha against the major trading currencies, especially the US Dollar,” Mpundu stated.
“During this price review period, the government imported the following consignments at a total cost of US$169.07 million: 102,610 metric tonnes of crude petroleum feed stock cargo; 14,6899.56 m3 of petrol and 61,084.10 m3 of diesel as finished petroleum products; and15,256.11 m 3 of petrol and 15,151.52m3 of diesel under the Saudi Arabia government to government deal. It should be noted that the Saudi Arabia deal translates to about 13 days stock of petrol and about six days stock of the diesel for the Zambian market. It therefore had minimal impact on the general supply patterns and consequently the local prices of petroleum products.”
He noted that ERB had not increased the fuel price since February.
“It should be noted that the last upward price review was on 12th February, 2018. despite subsequent cargos being assessed, there were no price adjustments on 9th April and 15th June, 2018 as the required adjustments were below the ERB set threshold of 2.5 per cent. Further, the 14th August 2018 price review could not be implemented as there was need to take into account the Saudi Arabia cargo which was to arrive separately… Further, since the last price adjustment, the Kwacha depreciated by K7.89 per cent from a monthly average of K9.89/US$ in February to average of K10.67/US$ in September 20108. Due to the volatility of the Kwacha in the last two weeks of September 2018, the daily exchange rate averaged K12.50/US$ implying a depreciation of 26.39 per cent since the last price adjustment in February 2018,” stated Mpundu.
And Kambwili condemned the move, saying this was what he meant when he said the PF government is composed of thieves.
“When we have been saying that these people have been stealing with the Chinese, people have taken it lightly but now the effects have started showing. Do you know why the cost of fuel has gone up? It is because the Kwacha has lost value to the United States dollars. If you talk about the pound, you cannot even comprehend it. Right now we are spending a lot of forex every month to service our debt, secondly, we are spending a lot of dollars to pay Chinese contractors because all the jobs are given to the Chinese contractors and finally, these Chinese are now doing even the small businesses like rearing chickens so a lot of money is externalised, as a result, there is no dollar on the market,” he said.
“Now because of this increase, all prices of commodities including food will go up and the end result is now poverty on the people. The externalisation of this money is now having a toll on the poor Zambians. This President is a failure and the end result is that every Zambian is going to suffer. Imagine a civil servant who gets about K3,000 a month, to go to work with a vehicle now is impossible because previously, one could put a K50 in the tank and it would take him to work and back maybe for two days but now, K50 is completely nothing, you can only get two litres. This is the beginning of the end of PF.”
He said Zambians must be careful when voting next time.
“I have warned Zambians before that let’s be careful the way we select Zambians to be President because not every Jim and Jack can be President. We go and even bring a chakolwa to come and lead us, now this is the end result. But bad things are still coming. This is just the beginning because we don’t have a government. It is now suffering for everybody. I feel sorry for the people in Kalingalinga, I feel sorry for the people in Chawama, I feel sorry for the people in Kanyama and for the people in Mporokoso because they are the ones who are going to feel the effect. Let me just tell the Zambians that the time for change is now and the time to put in leaders who care for the poor, leaders who know why they are in politics is now. And I can tell you that it is not long from now, I will come and wash this country, this country is too dirty and I will come and wash this country clean. Even all the chibuku and the Jamesons that will be left, I will come and clean everything so that people can breathe,” said Kambwili.
Meanwhile, Chief government spokesperson Dora Siliya took a grilling as she tried to explain where the cheap Saudi Arabia oil had gone.
This was after Mwebantu News Media twitted a picture of the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper headline “Cheap Saudi Oil in”, to which the minister responded “For the record, the Saudi oil was only enough for 6 days”.
This attracted further outrage from twitter users who questioned the minister how US$20 million worth of fuel imports could be exhausted in six days.
“Yes, it was inly 10 million litres petrol and 10 million litres diesel. Consumption is about 2 million litres for each per day,” explained Siliya.
“Mmmm boza, US$20 million worth of fuel consumed in just 6 days? Dora, drink some water mwaana,” argued Matakala Muyoba as Miss Bwalya added: “I don’t remember that 6-day supply going down to K5.50 as promised by you people.”
About Mirriam Chabala
Mirriam Chabala is a Zambian journalist who covers current affairs and writes in-depth feature articles on social issues.
Email: mirriam [at] diggers [dot] news
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