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FUEL SHORTAGE HITS

By SANFROSSA MANYINDA and ANDREW MUKOMA
A FUEL shortage has hit some selected districts on the Copperbelt and most filling stations in Lusaka, with long queues at most service stations

The shortage which started on Monday has kept motorists especially public transport operators worried in Ndola, Kitwe, Luanshya, Kalulushi and other Copperbelt towns.
A check by the Daily Nation found long queues of vehicles in fueling stations in Kitwe and Kitwe waiting to be supplied with the commodity.
A number of fueling stations only had diesel to last for a few days.
At Hillcrest’s Total service station in Ndola, which had no fuel some stocks were brought in the afternoon while the adjacent Lake Petroleum had long queues of vehicles.
Some motorists talked to complained that their businesses were being inconvenienced because they have had to be on long queues for a long time to access the commodity.
“Some fuelling stations still have the commodity but are taking advantage of the situation by reserving it waiting for the announcement of the increased prices to be announced,” one of the motorists Joseph Kasonde said.
Mr Kasonde accused the truck drivers that went on strike of being behind the shortage, stating that they were threatening tanker drivers.
The motorists however appealed to Government to seriously look into the matter so that businesses could get back to normal.
They said that fuel was the driver of the economy stating that the shortage of the economy would lead to a disaster.
And fuel shortages also hit Livingstone with indications that some filling stations have completely run out of the commodity.
Long queues were observed at Total and Engen filling stations while Puma was completely deserted with fuel attendants found chatting.
Motorists said the shortage of fuel was dampening the festive mood.
“It is terrible for a resort town to run out of fuel. Suppliers and distributors should always plan ahead because Livingstone is always busy,” one of the motorists said.
At Engen filling station, the fuel attendant who preferred not to be named said the truck that was expected to deliver the commodity was expected in the Resort City today.
According to ZANIS, Mwinilunga has also been hit by a shortage of fuel forcing motorists to access the commodity on the black market at exorbitant prices.
The only filling station in the district has had no fuel for close to a week now forcing motorists to buy petrol as high as K40 and diesel at K35 per litre, compared to the official prices of K17.62 for petrol and K15.59 for diesel respectively.
Mwinilunga District Commissioner, Anort Mapulanga confirmed the development, saying his office has engaged management at the filling station and advised them to urgently resolve the fuel challenge.
And Bilex Kananda, a taxi driver complained that they are risking the safety of their vehicles because of using fuel from the black market whose quality is not guaranteed.
Another taxi driver, Mark Malichanga said business has become difficult because customers are not booking their taxis due to the hiked fares.
Commuters are now paying as high as K50 on local routes which they have been paying K30 to K40.
Mwinilunga Filling Station Manager, Tranex Lupinda attributed the fuel shortage to the long holiday, saying his company could not load fuel from Ndola because the fuel depots do not operate during holidays.
Mr Lupinda assured that the filling station is expected to receive fuel supplies within this week.

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