Despite the reported reduced quantities of fuel that Botswana imports from South Africa due to closure of three refineries, fuel supply continues throughout the country.
Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security and other stakeholders in the petroleum industry are to be commended for increasing the quantity of fuel sourced via alternative routes in Namibia and Mozambique to make up for the shortfall.
Credit could also be shared with consumers, as they have not resorted to panic buying. However, one cannot rule out that this could be because many people do not have spending power in January. We, however, hope members of the public will even during month end answer the plea by government not to panic buy.
Since we have proven that we do not easily follow pleas as witnessed when the fuel situation was bad last year, we plead with the government to have restrictions in place before the situation gets dire when everybody can afford to fill up their tanks.
Permanent Secretary Mmetla Masire last week said they would not be putting restrictions in place yet because the situation is still normal. He also said strategic reserves have fuel that can sustain the country for 18 days. He stated that the long awaited Tshele facility would improve to 60 days fuel supply. We call on the government to act swiftly on the matter to ensure that fuel shortage becomes a thing of the past. The facility will be of great benefit as proven last year when there was fuel shortage we saw productivity come to a standstill as some businesses could not operate while people also spent lots of time at filling stations when they were supposed to be working.
In late 2019, not for the first time, the Ministry reported that ongoing sporadic public unrests in South Africa could lead to fuel shortage in the country. We know that currently the issue has not been put to bed and from time to time South Africans revolt against foreign nationals driving trucks.
It also seems like our go to place is South Africa and Namibia and Mozambique only become our last resort. What if they also experience some glitches? With our own Tshele, there should be fewer worries. We therefore call on the President and relative stakeholders to attend to the situation urgently. The project has been dragging on for long enough!