Ivan Zhakata and Marytise Vambayi
Heavy pumping from Beira to Feruka and on to Msasa has already seen 28 million litres of petrol arrive in Zimbabwe and being distributed rapidly ensuring most service stations were able to resume petrol sales, with another 37 million litres of petrol expected on Thursday and 35 million litres on Christmas Day.
There has been erratic supply of petrol, which arose when Beira port was closed for maintenance from November 21 to 2 December.
Even though the first ship carrying Zimbabwean petrol was given priority when the port reopened, a second delay arose when the pipeline from Feruka to Msasa had to be cleared first of the diesel it was pumping. Most oil companies were reluctant to send their petrol tankers to Feruka to load and insisted on waiting until the pipeline to Msasa was able to switch to petrol.
As supply improved on Saturday and yesterday, Energy and Power Development Minister Soda Zhemu said motorists should not panic because there was enough petrol for the country and the logistics of getting it from Beira to Msasa had been sorted out.
“About 28 million litres is being pumped. We will have 37 million litres of petrol on December 16 and another 35 million on December 25. We expect the situation to normalise latest tomorrow (Monday),” he said.
“We have plenty petrol and the public should not panic. After the shutdown of Beira port from November 21 until December 2, a vessel which was carrying fuel for Zimbabwe was prioritised and pumping commenced on the 4th and the product was expected to be at Msasa by the 8th.
“However, oil companies were advised to pick their product at Feruka since the pipeline between Feruka and Msasa had diesel which needed to be pushed first. Some responded while others decided to wait. As we speak, petrol is being pumped and oil companies have started getting fuel at Msasa,” he said.
In the city centre, some fuel stations among them, Puma and Total along Sam Nunjoma Street, Energy Park and Glow Petroleum along Samora Machel Avenue among others had petrol while other stations were waiting deliveries.
A quick check in Harare city centre showed that queues were moving faster, and some service stations had no queues at all.
Petrol was also available at Thuli fuel station along Highfield Road and at Zuva fuel station along Seke Road.
Motorists expressed relief over the arrival of the shipment saying they were happy the petrol situation has improved.
One of the motorists, Mr Last Muchena said he was relieved with the availability of petrol as they were worried with the shortage that happened in the past few days.
“So far the situation is much better compared to Friday where we spent the day waiting for petrol. The queues are moving faster and we are relieved that the situation has improved,” he said.
Mrs Priscilla Hama echoed the same sentiments and said she was happy that petrol was now available at most service stations.
“I am happy that petrol is now available. I work in Norton and I did not know how I was going to work tomorrow because my petrol was not enough,” she said.
Ms Tamary Sithole said: “At least I can move around without worrying about where I can get petrol because it is now available at almost every fuel station.”