Minister of Energy Mathew Nkhuwa, is disappointed with Puma Oil marketing company for failure to stock enough petrol at its filling stations.
Mr. Nkhuwa says in spite of having 70 years’ experience in the energy sector, the company is failing to order fuel in a timely manner, so as to cushion consumers against shortages.
The Energy Minister has noted that Puma’s performance on the market was being surpassed by companies such as Mount Meru, which he said is a new player on the market.
ZANIS reports that Mr Nkhuwa said this when he arrived in Livingstone today, to check on fuel stock levels after the government put up measures to curb the fuel shortages the city and other districts experienced in the last few weeks.
“Puma management seem not to know what they are doing. The situation is disappointing since we need them especially during times when we are experiencing fuel shortages as a country,” he said.
He said he was impressed with the fuel stock levels at all the filling stations except for Puma.
Mr. Nkhuwa noted that most filling stations had enough stocks to last up to six days.
“Oil marketing companies have reserves for their filling stations, while the country has reserves to last up to 10 days, although the ideal situation would be 15 days,” the Minister explained.
He said the fuel shortage was caused by oil marketing companies not ordering fuel due to high landing fees for Zambia.
“So upon realizing that, Government did consultations, and afterwards, we removed excise duty on diesel, reduced petrol from K2.7 to K2.64 and zero rated the Value added tax so that the end user would not get affected. That is why the end user is still buying fuel at the same price,” Mr. Nkhuwa said.
He further assured the nation that a fuel hike was unlikely at the moment.
“We would have increased the price of fuel but we realize that if we increase the price of fuel, everything else will sky rocket in terms of pricing. Government, through President Edgar Lungu, wants to ensure the people of Zambia get the benefit of everything we are doing,” he said.
Mr. Nkuwa however, said the government had no control over the two major factors that led to fuel increase.
He cited the two factors as the kwacha to dollar rate and the international oil prices.
“So when international oil prices go up, it becomes very difficult; the kwacha has been devalued by about 51 percent and a barrel of crude oil was going at about US$40 the last time we increased, now it is about US$53. These are the factors, and there is nothing much we can do about them,” he said.
Earlier, Mr. Nkhuwa paid a courtesy call on Livingstone District Commissioner Pascalina Musokotwane at her office who informed the minister that the fuel situation had stabilized.
Ms Musokotwane however, said the district was adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While in Southern Province, Mr. Nkhuwa is scheduled to check on fuel stock levels at filling stations along the line of rail.