Botswana government allays fears over fuel shortage

Holdup of fuel tankers at the South African and Namibian borders

30 June 2020 | Business

Energy officials in Botswana allayed fears over a looming fuel shortage in the country after several fuel stations ran dry.

Hundreds of motorists lined up to refuel their vehicles in the capital Gaborone and elsewhere after it emerged that most fuel stations had run out of fuel, causing panic amongst motorists.

However, according to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Minerals Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Mmetla Masire, the situation came as a result of logistical issues in dealing with Covid-19 and it will be resolved in a few days.

Addressing the media on Saturday afternoon, Masire said the main cause of the fuel shortage situation was fuel tanker drivers who have to be quarantined awaiting their test results for Covid-19.

Botswana, being landlocked, routes its fuel through coastal neighbours including South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique. Since going into lockdown in early April, the country has subjected all truck drivers transporting essential goods to mandatory Covid-19 tests.

The move has been praised by health officials as key to stopping local spread of the virus as many cases have been detected before they came into contact with anyone.

This has at times resulted in delays as they have to wait in a quarantine centre for their results before they can proceed with their trips, done under escort by the police through the country.

Masire said the current situation of fuel shortage is exacerbated by panic buying after some false news was spread via social media platforms that the country will have a fuel shortage as there is a shortage in South Africa, where most fuel is imported from.

He explained that there was a holdup of fuel tankers at the South African and Namibian borders for the past two days as there was a delay with the drivers results, adding this has since been resolved and some tankers already started moving to deliver fuel.

He added that in addition the country keeps some strategic fuel reserves that at the moment can last for a period of seven days without any fuel from outside. - Nampa /Xinhua