Africa Moyo Senior Business Reporter
The consumption of diesel and petrol plunged by almost 1,5 million litres and 1,8 million litres per day respectively between January and February this year, compared to previous months on the back of price adjustments and the impact of the Monetary Policy Statement that ushered in a number of far-reaching measures.
The reduction has seen the country making huge savings in foreign currency at a time the economy is facing a crippling shortage of hard currency that has seen it failing to sufficiently import other essential commodities including fuel and medical drugs.
The Government increased the price of petrol and diesel on January 12 this year to RTGS$3,31 and RTGS$3,11, respectively, a move that curtailed non-productive movements by motorists.
Before the upward adjustment, the country consumed 4,7 million litres of diesel and 3,8 million litres for petrol per day respectively — most of which was for luxury and speculative purposes.
Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo, told Business Weekly last week that the intermittent fuel queues visible in some parts of the country are largely resulting from logistical challenges pertaining to distribution.
“Consumption has gone down but the statistics are not yet final. We have continued to see queues for fuel for logistical reasons but definitely, consumption for diesel has gone down to about 3,3 million litres per day and petrol to about 2 million litres per day,” said Dr Gumbo.
“As you know, we had gone to between 4,5 million litres and 4,7 million litres of diesel and 3,8 million litres for petrol per day.
“But we cannot say that we are giving the correct figure (quantities of fuel) at the moment because we had not completely stabilised since the change of prices.
“When the prices changed, there was the issue of the Monetary Policy, it affected again consumption.”
Dr Gumbo said speculative messages on the social media about shortages and price hikes of fuel has also resulted in re-emergence of fuel queues and hoarding.
Recently, there has been speculation that fuel shortages would re-emerge due to the effects of Cyclone Idai, which ripped apart the Mozambican port city of Beira, some eastern and southern parts of Zimbabwe and Malawi.
Some social media reports also suggested that the Feruka pipeline, which transports the bulk of Zimbabwe’s fuel, had been severely damaged and unable to move fuel.
However, Dr Gumbo said the Feruka pipeline “remains intact”.
Last week, Energy Deputy Minister Magna Mudyiwa said the fuel pipeline, which transports fuel from Beira to Harare will resume operations next month after authorities closed it two weeks ago as a precautionary measure against the tropical Cyclone Idai.
The pipeline was suspended on the 15th of this month, as a precautionary measure against the destructive Cyclone Idai.
Said Dr Gumbo: “From January 1 to February 28, the consumption of fuel has gone down; withdrawals (from Masasa) have remained stable and we have kept quite a lot of diesel and a lot of petrol in stock.
“This is why I am saying that even with this unfortunate incident of the cyclone, we still have enough fuel to supply our country.
“We thank God because the pipeline is intact, and most of our fuel has been coming through the pipeline but there were also other measures to bring in fuel if the pipeline had been affected, we would have used the road and rail.”