OIL Marketing Companies Association of Zambia president Dr Kafula Mubanga says the country has sufficient fuel stocks, but is experiencing a delay in supply due to the go slow by tanker drivers who are demanding increased rates.

Most filling stations in Lusaka, Kitwe and other parts of the country have run out of fuel, causing panic among motorists who are braving long queues at the few stations which still have the commodity.

But in an interview, Dr Mubanga clarified that there was no shortage and negotiations with the drivers had reached an advanced stage.

“Actually, there is no shortage of fuel. TAZAMA is full of fuel and other OMCs have stocked enough fuel, the other fuels as we speak they are in tankers that have not just been offloaded because of the drivers striking. The issues the of tanker drivers relates to the issue of the transport rate, actually the association responsible for trànsporters have been brought to a negotiation and we have since agreed from the perspective of the OMCs with respect to the rates. So we have to see that they are enacted by the minister who should be able to endorse the negotiation on rates so that the tankers can begin to offload products in the market,” he said.

He charged that there was a cartel which was trying to frustrate government’s efforts in delivering the commodity as some union members were threatening violence on those who had managed to negotiate rates.

“What we are seeing actually is culminating from the fact that some of these union members for the transporters are underplaying government’s efforts by frustrating those that have succumbed to price negotiations by threatening violence. So our urge as the oil marketing companies association, we are appealing to the minister responsible for home affairs to be able to protect those that would want to offload this product on the market and eradicate this. It’s just a cartel that is wanting to frustrate government efforts in delivering products,” Dr Mubanga said.

He said the association was in liaison with the fuel transporters on ensuring that the 50 percent of the waiver was given to locals.

“OMCs are not transporters and the waiver conditions is such that you need to use 50 percent of the local transporters, 50 percent of the foreign transporters. That is in view of the fact that we do not have enough fleet that can move the product but also to attract foreign exchange. So government has come up with that deliberate policy. So the OMCs are not frustrating the government policy except that in this case an appeal to use the local transporters can be adhered to in order to meet the 50 percent threshold that was given. The OMCs are not venturing into transport, we are strictly looking at product movement and transporters are part of our stakeholders. So we are in liaison with them to make sure that there is harmony,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Mubanga hoped that steady supply could be achieved by Tuesday if the ministry manages to engage all stakeholders.

“I think the engagements are ongoing, PPTAZ has proceeded to the negotiations except that the major stakeholder in this process is government through the Ministry of Energy so we hope that the minister of energy will then be able to settle the matter by encouraging the stakeholder participation through a stakeholder meeting which we hope can be achieved possibly on Monday or Tuesday, Monday being a holiday. I think that’s what we are seemingly looking at,” said Dr Mubanga.