Harare motorists cope with hours-long fuel queues

The Engen service station began selling petrol to motorists late on Monday from around 6pm and continued doing so into the early hours of Tuesday, before it closed.

A fuel attendant said it was too early to claim that the fuel situation had normalised.

“We have petrol, but we don’t have diesel. Sometimes we have diesel and don’t have petrol. It’s really too early to say if anything has gone back to normal,” he said.

But despite the long queues that have become a common feature, authorities in Harare remain stone-faced about the fuel shortages. Energy minister, Joram Gumbo recently said there was enough fuel in the country, amid claims that $60m was released last week to pay for fuel imports.

Zimbabwe’s daily demand for diesel is 4.1 million litres and 3.8 million litres for petrol.

In his budget speech last month, finance minister Mthuli Ncube said the fuel shortages would end in a few days. An article by state media which said that the country had enough fuel supplies sparked a fierce debate.

In the fuel queues, claims by politicians of normalcy are dismissed as “lies” by motorists, who endure the most pain of sitting for hours in the queues. This is the second time within a month that shortages have emerged in Zimbabwe.

In response to the fuel shortages, some commuter omnibus operators and taxi drivers have hiked their fares.

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