I have been trying to get petrol for my car over the past two days. One thing that I have discovered is that Service Stations in Zimbabwe are now mostly no longer serving anyone who is not a membership cardholder. I mean, I have my Nyaradzo Card, my PSMAS card, and my Bank Cards, but I never thought I would, one day, be asked to produce a Service Station card!
End of the Road
Today, I caught myself Googling the number of kilometers that my beloved but battered Corolla will go after the fuel light has turned on. The life of a modern human being, without a doubt, is littered with anxiety.
In Zimbabwe, the fuel shortages have just become another source of this overarching sense of siege that characterizes today’s existence.
For me, however, this has become the end of the road. I have decided, after two days of running up and down and being asked to produce that pesky fuel station membership card, that I will shortly be going back to public transport.
Solutions to the fuel crisis in Zimbabwe
The fuel shortages that are prevailing in the country as mainly due to the disparity that exists between the exchange rate and the black market rate. Of course, the forex black market in Zimbabwe has now been decimated following the coming on board of punitive pieces of legislation, but the parallel rate is still being used when pegging prices. At the official rate, fuel in the country is being heavily subsidized by the government. Solutions to the challenges being faced include the following;
- Having forex only service stations on which fuel is readily available. This is particularly pertinent now that the Diaspora is coming home for the holidays. In order to avoid inconveniencing them, there should be service stations that sell fuel in Rands, USDs, Pulas and so forth.
- The second solution involves allowing the price of fuel to track the implied parallel market rate. Honestly, at a rate of 1:1, fuel is practically being given away to those that have access to forex. Allow the price of fuel to rise to around $3 per liter and the market will self correct.
- Increase blending: This solution would probably not be that popular with the public. However, increasing the blending level to 30 percent would significantly lower the amounts of forex that the country needs to import fuel.
- Encourage use of public transport: If drivers take public transport twice a week, the result would be a significant decrease in fuel consumption.
- Teach drivers to drive conservatively to save fuel.
A final note
In Zimbabwe, as in so many other countries, fuel imports practically hold the country at ransom. The need to keep our cars going consumes much of the scarce forex that is generated by the nation. A lot, however, can be done to reduce our dependence on fuel imports.