Fuel shortage: Is temporary relief over?

Fuel shortage makes waiting for a bus look like “waiting for Godot”.

Fuel shortage makes waiting for a bus look like “waiting for Godot”.

From last week, the public sighed with relief that there were signs the fuel shortage that had rocked the nation over several weeks was to end soon. But the problem reoccurs bringing with it its nightmarish events.

On Tuesday morning, many of service stations were dry, and vehicles built up long queues at service stations that had or expected to get fuel. A look around nine service stations in different parts of Bujumbura revealed only one had fuel this morning.

The fuel shortage has paralyzed many facets of the national life from late March. Users of public transport services have to wait for a long time at the queues. At times, workers, students and others have to walk to their destinations.

The fuel shortage coupled with the lack of electricity disrupts activities of hospitals and schools that rely on generators. Similar reports emerged over the last weeks that even telephone operators and radio stations were affected by the shortage.

Transport fees over long distances have skyrocketed. Speculation has intensified. Prices may double.
Foodstuffs brought from upcountry, if available, have risen in prices.

Government officials attribute the problem to a host of factors including the lack of foreign currency.
Before last week, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Come Manirakiza, talked of a “technical” problem as the cause of the shortage.

He had reassured the public the situation was to be brought back to normal gradually from the beginning of last week.

That happened. Until today… Daniel Mpitabakana, Director of the Fuel department at the Ministry of Energy and Mines was not available to comment on today’s situation.