The Centre for Trade Policy and Development has notes with concern the fuel shortages the nation has been facing in a number of parts of the country.
CTPD has observed panic buying and hiking of the price of the commodity by some traders in some affected parts of the country following the persistent fuel shortage.
In Lusaka, the shortage has often been characterised with long consumer fuel queue going up to late hours just to access the commodity.
CTPD is of the opinion that various factors may be attributable to this and that government through its relevant economic institutions should explore investigating the possible existence of cartel arrangements amongst traders to determine fuel delivery or even hike prices periodically without any clear justification.
CTPD is of the strong view that government should monitor such possible actions very closely as they have potential to worsen the economic situation in the country.
CTPD calls upon the energy regulation board (ERB) and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC)to fully assess the main triggers of fuel shortages in Zambia and carefully asses’ possible cartel behaviours amongst traders to protect the Zambian economy from further deterioration.
“CTPD warns government and local traders to realise that the Zambian economy is already under extreme economic pressure as lower copper prices and electricity shortages have diminished the pace of economic activity. In addition, unfavourable inflation has worsened the cost of expenditure and financing conditions have tightened substantially, resulting in increased cost of doing business,” said CTPD Executive Director Isabel Mukelabai in a statement.
CTPD further warns that fuel shortages caused in any way should not be allowed to continue as they are a cost and will cause further economic stress, government should resolve immediately any impending issues causing delays in oil supply and make public its assessments and corrective measures being undertaken through the line of energy.
It must be noted that fuel has been an alternative source of power and energy besides natural power from ZESCO, the commodity is a cornerstone for sustained industrial and milling production in the country and therefore tempering with the commodity availability will have a catastrophic effects on the economy.
CTPD is therefore urging government to come up with firm sustained action as quickly as possible to restore fuel supply stability.
Government should establish good coordination among fuel tankers, filling stations and other fuel agencies to ensure immediate supplies of fuel so that the commodity can be stocked and be delivered to filling stations adequately to avoid further stress to the economy.