The Indeni Oil Refinery has had no crude oil for over 60 days, the longest in the last decade, the Power Generation and Allied Workers Union of Zambia and the National Union of Transport and Allied Workers have revealed.
In a joint statement issued by the Power Generation and Allied Workers Union of Zambia General Secretary Mutukelwa Lubita, there is no pumping at Indeni despite the many assurances by the Ministry of Energy.
Mr. Lubita said the situation raises many concerns and must not be allowed to continue.
He said that there is need for every patriotic Zambian to reflect on the efforts and selfless approach put in by Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and his team.
“They built the pipeline from Dar-e-salaam through to Ndola where Indeni Refinery is. The plant is an expensive installation whose safety gets compromised when left to lie idle. It must not be allowed to be exposed to the elements while in non – working state”, he said.
Mr Lubita said in this era of COVID-19 it should be the position of the Ministry of Energy to compliment the fight against the pandemic by reduced exposure unlike the increased importation of finished products.
“In our view, the importation is exposing tanker drivers to Covid-19 and consequently the entire country. The pandemic has brought with it untold suffering in form of job losses”, he added.
Mr Lubita said this situation at Indeni therefore does threaten the workers adding that the anxiety levels are high especially that there has never been a lengthy shut down like it for nearly two decades.
“We do sympathize with the workers for the mental torture they are being subjected to. This is not just torture to the workers but also a threat to the nation if transportation of fuel is left in private hands. It puts money in the oil marketing company’s and none in the government”, he added.
He expressed hope that the delay is not in any way a test of the refinery’s’ relevance because it is.
Mr Lubita said with the shutdown of Indeni, Ndola lime operations are affected, Ndola energy which contributes about 100 Megawatts of power to the Zesco grid is equally shut which affects the national power supply. There are many more too numerous to mention.
He has further implored the authorities to consider migrating the responsibility of crude oil procurement to Indeni so as to avoid future occurrences of this nature.
“As we understand it, the money for crude oil should not be a challenge because it revolves. Crude oil is procured, it’s refined and sold, for a profit at that”, he said.
Mr Lubita said as workers representatives therefore, they are left wondering whether or not to believe the speculations that some highly placed technocrats at the ministry of energy are cashing in on the situation by involving themselves directly or indirectly in the importation of finished petroleum products.