KIGALI - Motorists queued for hours at most petrol stations around the country yesterday as some filling stations ran out of fuel. Many motorists complained that some pump attendants had started to give fuel to only those who paid in advance.However despite the shortages, prices remained unchanged as a survey around Kigali last evening showed that a litre of diesel remained at Frw677 while that of petrol cost Frw684 as it has been since weeks ago.
Meanwhile, our correspondent in the Eastern Province said that the speculation had encouraged black market in Nyagatare District with a litre going for up to Frw1000 on the New Year’s Day.
The shortages have been fuelled by continued deadly riots in Kenya over last Thursday’s disputed election which returned President Mwai Kibaki, who beat main opposition challenger Raila Odinga., for a second five-year term.
At least 300 people have died as a result of violent protests, and after-effects of the violence in the country long known for its stability in the region, are already seriously felt in the neighbouring Uganda where fuel prices have more than tripled in last three days.
Kenya is the main route for fuel supplies and other imports as well as exports to and from Uganda, Rwanda, eastern DR Congo and Southern Sudan.
There are increasing concerns if the Kenyan violence continues unabated and traders fail to bring in fresh supplies, the country could be plunged into power blackouts since diesel-driven generators provide a significant amount of power in Rwanda.
However, Rwandan officials have called for calm over fuel speculations saying that alternative measures are already in place in case of scarcity.
The State Minister for Energy Eng. Albert Butare said yesterday that the ministry had already alerted Dalbit Petroleum, a contracted supplier, to be on standby should the deadline of its current stock expire.
“We have until January 17 when the 1.8 million litres of diesel we use in the generation of electricity will run out, but we have informed our suppliers to join us in getting ready if the Kenya crisis continues,” Butare said.
Meanwhile, a cargo controller at the national bonded warehouse (Magerwa) said that the Kenyan crisis had also affected the importation of cars into the country. The usually packed houses are currently empty, save for a few trucks.
“No cars have been received through the Gatuna or Rusumo borders since yesterday (Tuesday). We don’t know the actual cause of this but it should be due to the Kenya riots,” the official who spoke on condition of anonymity said.
At the commercial street in the city centre, several traders echoed fears that they could run out of stock should the crisis drag on up for a week.
“I’ve just stocked my shop, but I imagine if the merchandise gets over in one week I won’t be able to meet my suppliers in Kenya,” said Muhashi, a trader
Another businesswoman said: “This is going to affect us negatively. We still have little merchandise we stocked before the festive season; we were planning to go back (to Kenya) for more.”
By press time, Commerce minister Protais Mitali, could not be reached for a comment on the general strategic fuel stock in the country.