LUSAKA, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Fuel tankers started rolling in Zambia Monday following the resumption of work by drivers who hade been protesting over unfair treatment, leading to critical gasoline shortages in the country.
The gasoline crisis is to be eased soon as many fuel tankers started crossing into the country from different border entries, escorted by the police officers and officers from the country's revenue collection agency, the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA).
Pictures posted on social media platforms showed long queues of trucks entering the country while other pictures showed fuel was offloaded from tankers in various service stations as motorists waited.
Local drivers complained that they were treated unfairly under a 50-50 transportation system between local and foreign fuel tanker drivers, saying foreigners were getting a huge chunk of the business. So they packed up the trucks in protest, which led to the gasoline crisis.
The tanker drivers resumed operations after the intervention by President Edgar Lungu who directed for the full implementation of the 50 percent fuel volume allocation and a meeting with Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).
Minister of Energy Mathew Nkhuwa said a meeting was held, with the local transporters agreeing to reduce oil transportation rates to match those charged by foreign transporters, and urged OMCs to ensure that the directive was adhered to.
Nkhuwa said OMCs have been complaining about the exorbitant prices charged by local transporters hence their decision to engage the foreign ones.
He said the situation has now normalized as more fuel was expected to start coming into the country.
Some parts of the country, especially Lusaka, the country's capital, experienced a critical shortage of fuel in the last two days resulting in long queues in a few filling stations that had the commodity.
A local think-tank has urged the government to put in place a system that will always be ready for incidences that might affect the distribution systems of petroleum products.
Paul Hakoola, director of the Continental Leadership Research Institute, said fuel was one of the key drivers of the economy hence the need to ensure that there were no disruptions in the supply chain.
"The Institute recognizes that petroleum is a fundamental pillar that drives the economy and there have to be proper backup support systems that can ensure that the economy and end users are protected from sudden disruption in the distribution chain of petroleum products," he said. He expressed concern that the country lacked proper backup systems to fall back on in times of disruptions to ensure economic stability.
Patriotic Truck Drivers National Mobilization Chairperson Isaac Kangombe thanked the Zambian president for intervening in the matter, saying it was gratifying that the issue of implementation of the 50 percent has been addressed. He urged the fuel transporters to ensure that fuel was delivered to all parts of the country. Enditem