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Black Market Emerges As Fuel Crisis Deepens

INNOCENT SELATLHWA
KEY PERSONNEL: Petrol attendants’ role has new significance PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
During the lockdown, some Batswana spent loads of money buying alcohol and cigarettes on the black market.

Traders put a mark-up of more than 300%, taking advantage of desperate drinkers and smokers. The trend has returned, but this time around, it is fuel, which is sold on the parallel market. A five-litre container of fuel fetches around P50 on the black market, compared to the regular price of P35. With the fuel crisis unabated, black market prices are expected to skyrocket.

Traders buy the fuel and approach motorists who are desperate and offer them the product at, at least, double the price, sources said. There is concern that some people keep the product at home or in offices, as they wait for clients. Police are concerned, as fuel is a flammable product, and should be kept in a proper manner. 

Botswana Police Service assistant commissioner, Dipheko Motube confirmed the emergence of a fuel black market. He referred further questions to the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA).

BERA chief executive officer, Rose Seretse said they have heard about the illegal trade in the commodity, and promised the energy regulator would crack the whip.

“We are concerned about people who buy and sell fuel at higher

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prices. It amounts to illegal trading and we shall punish the perpetrators going forward as we see the trend is growing,” she said.

Seretse said with the fuel situation remaining uncertain, they expect the illegal selling of fuel to continue.

She said they would work with the police to nip the emerging trend in the bud.  When the crisis broke, government directed fuel stations not to sell the product in containers.

The move was, however, reversed hours later, as motorists argued their cars were stuck without the commodity, while farmers also said they needed to use containers to carry fuel to their farms. Meanwhile, Seretse said despite the persistent shortages, a price hike was not considered.

“It should be noted that Botswana is a price taker, pricing is influenced by external factors which the country does not have any control of.

Prices in Botswana are reviewed on a monthly basis based on the pricing slate,” she said.

“Determination of the quantum of adjustment would be based largely on the position of the unit rates and other factors such as the cumulative slate and National Petroleum Fund balances.”



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