Panic as fuel runs out in Kampala

A fuel station in Kampala on January 17. PHOTO/NMG

What you need to know:

  • The shortage sparked traffic gridlock at various fuel stations as motorists struggled to refill their tanks.

Fuel stations in Kampala have hiked prices after the demand for the product increased due to a shortage of fuel in the country.

A mini survey conducted by this publication yesterday revealed that a number of the fuel stations in Kampala had also run out of fuel, especially petrol.

The shortage sparked traffic gridlock at various fuel stations as motorists  struggled to refill their tanks.

The stations without fuel did not display prices on their fuel signage while others closed business and put up signs saying they had run out of fuel.

Some stations in the city and its suburbs like Gayaza, only had Shell V-power (an enhanced high specification of fuel), which is slightly more expensive than the ordinary fuel.

Mr Darrius Twesigye, a pump attendant at Total Fuel Station in Nsambya, said he left work at 2pm because the station had ran out of fuel.

“We have been informed that fuel won’t be arriving today (yesterday) so we shall go back tomorrow and hopefully we can resume work,” he said

The spokesperson of Kampala City Traders’ Association (Kacita), Mr Issa Ssekitto, said the fuel crisis is taking a toll on trade. 

“There has been a halt in transportation and delivery of goods because most of the trucks we use need fuel but the prices are outrageous and will lead to losses. We are already being hindered by the doubled freight charges, shortage in production of containers, so the fuel crisis is just adding insult to an injury,” he said.

He added: “Government needs to review the Petroleum Act and find ways to manage the crisis because even if the situation at the border is cleared, fuel prices are likely to remain constant because the proprietors want to maximise the profit margin.” 

The Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Ramathan Ggoobi, in a tweet blamed the fuel crisis on the administrative strategies issued by government to curb Covid-19.

In a January 15 document, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development promised to resolve the shortage of fuel and warned operators against hiking prices above Shs5,000. 

However, despite the directive by government, the fuel prices at most of the stations were above Shs5,000.

The ongoing fuel crisis is a result of fuel trucks being stuck at the Malaba and Busia borders. 

This has been attributed to the mandatory Covid-19 testing which truck drivers are subjected to before entering the country.

In a January 15 document, the Health ministry stated that Covid-19 testing at the border was suspended to ease the clearing process of the fuel trucks.

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