Gaborone - After nearly three weeks of fuel shortages, Botswana is working on sourcing fuel from Namibia and Mozambique.
Botswana has historically sourced fuel through South Africa, but delays at the border because of COVID-19 testing has created a bottleneck. The situation could be exacerbated by a nascent strike by truck drivers in South Africa who allege haulage companies in that country are sidelining them in favour of hiring foreigners.
Botswana’s Secretary for Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Mmetla Masire cautioned the public to use fuel sparingly while the government and other stakeholders worked to resolve the supply mismatch.
“In addition to sourcing fuel from South Africa, the government and oil marketing companies (OMCs) also continue to source fuel from alternative routes of Namibia and Mozambique,” said Masire.
More than 90 percent of Botswana’s fuel comes from OMCs. Botswana Oil Limited, the government’s actor in the oil sector, imports limited volumes for strategic stocks, as well as some commercial stocks based on orders from oil companies.
The government, said Masire, had released 30,8 million litres of combined strategic and commercial stocks for use during the crisis.
“However, the demand still exceeds the supply. Panic buying is a major contributor to the rapid depletion of fuel at the filling stations. It is on this note that members of the public are advised against stockpiling fuel as this is worsening the fuel shortage in the country,” said Masire.
He said the prevalent use of jerrycans had promoted hoarding in addition to creating a fire risk as people were not stocking fuel safely.
“We are concerned that the country is consuming almost double the normal usage because of this hoarding,” added Masire.
He illicit trading of fuel would result in prosecutions as per Section 34 of the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority Act.
Minister of Transport and Communications Thulagano Segokgo said should Botswana fail to access fuel from South Africa because of the strike and related xenophobic attacks, the country would explore rail options as well as getting supplies from Mozambique via Zimbabwe.
“In addition, we receive fuel from Namibia by road,” he said.
Minister Segokgo said should the strikes and attacks continue in South Africa, the matter could be escalated to the SADC Cross Border Regulatory Forum.
“The procedure is if the forum is unable to resolve the issue, it is escalated to SADC ministers. The forum is chaired by South Africa and its membership is from all SADC member states,” said Minister Segokgo.