Economy

Bujumbura residents complain about fuel shortage

Since 28 March, there are long queues of vehicles waiting for fuel at different gas stations in the capital Bujumbura. The residents fear that the situation may get worse. The Ministry of Energy and Mines reassures them, however.

Vehicles queuing up at Kinindo City Oil gas station

Vehicles queuing up at Kinindo City Oil gas station

“I have been looking for fuel since 5a.m. but in vain. Fuel is only supplied to authorities”, says a driver met at Kigobe City Oil station in the northern area of the capital Bujumbura. He also says accidents often occur when drivers try to approach fuel pumps.

It is the same situation at “Top one” Kigobe gas station. “Fuel is provided unfairly. Some jump the queue and get it immediately while others are still queuing up”, says a taxi driver. He also says he and his fellow taxi drivers don’t know how their family will survive in case the situation gets worse. “We may spend a day without working while we are expected to pay taxi owners per day”, he says.

At Kingstar and City Oil stations from the southern part of the capital Bujumbura, there was no fuel. Engen and Kobil branches operating in Burundi have not imported fuel since the past month due to the lack of foreign currency.
Daniel Mpitabakana, charged with fuel in the Ministry of Energy, says the queue of vehicles around gas stations is due to the difficulties of internet connection frequent lately in the services of Burundi Revenue Authority (OBR).

“For about three days of the week from 20 to 26 March, trucks could not cross the border due to registration difficulties”, he says.

Mpitabakana says the impact of these technical failures is also observed in the nature of the products stored. “This has broken the supply chain, which requires a certain time of welding”, he says.

The loading and unloading-based problems at the Gitega fuel depot are also another factor of the queues observed in different areas. “The depot was in fact designed only for the storage of products and not for their supply, which does not facilitate the activity”, he says. This problem, he says, has not yet been resolved despite the storage at the petroleum subsidiary company (SEP) by Interpetrol company which currently manages the depot.

Mpitabakana also says the fear of a probable lack of petroleum products the next day would be the reason why some consumers rush to gas stations to tank up their vehicles, what causes long queues and heavy traffic in the capital.
“We would like to ensure people that the fuel stock is good despite the problems linked to technical disruptions”, he says.