Fuel shortage not linked to COVID-19

GP Correspondent

The COVID-19 Task Force has allayed reports that testing for the respiratory disease at the borders is cause for the countrywide fuel shortages.

Dr. Kereng Masupu, Coordinator of the Presidential COVID-19 Task Force, this week said testing of drivers has been in place for two months and has functioned successfully.

“The Task Force inspected movement at border points over the weekend and noted that delay in facilitating movement of essential service transporters was because of system challenges by clearing agents not because of COVID-19 testing,” said Masupu.

On the contrary, Engen Botswana had informed customers of anticipated fuel deliveries over the weekend due to procedures and protocols by health authorities to curb spread of COVID-19.

“We are informed that drivers are tested for COVID-19 and have to wait for results which take up to three days. After they have received results, the drivers are taken into quarantine for 14 days.

“This means trucks are left standing with products, as they will be released with their respective drivers. The fuel industry as a whole has been affected by these measures,” said Kevin Moipolai, Commercial Sales Specialist at Engen.

Dr. Masupu has reiterated that COVID-19 testing at the border ports is an important public health prevention measure which has assisted to identify more than 80% of the cases diagnosed in by the health authorities.

“These cases would otherwise have come into the country undetected,” said Dr Masupu.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security authorized the release of strategic stocks into the market to normalise the fuel supply situation, though by Monday evening long winding lines were still evident in most filling stations.

“The Ministry had expected the fuel supply situation to normalize in two to three days, but due to panic buying there has been continuous strain on fuel supply. Due to panic buying, some filling stations daily demand increased threefold,” said Mmetla Masire, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security.

He said a number of fuel trucks and train wagons continue to arrive into the country through Namibia, South Africa and Mozambique.