Regional truck drivers have asked government to install digital fuel measuring devices to enhance effectiveness of their operations.
The drivers that import fuel via the central corridor that connects Kigali to Dar port in Tanzania allege that the manual system that is currently in use at Gatsata fuel depot in Nyabugogo are outdated and prone to manipulation.
The complaints follow a recent strike at Gatsata depot, where drivers refused to unload petroleum products unless the system is digitalised.
Although government intervened to calm the situation, the truckers are still protesting the way current machines operate.
Gatsata fuel depot is one of the biggest of the five depots in the country with the capacity of handling nine million litres. More than 20 trucks from Mombasa port in Kenya and Dar port offload oil products every day at the depot.
Issa Mugarura, the vice president of Rwanda Long Distance Drivers Union (ACPLRWA), said transporters keep incurring losses on the manual system.
He said some drivers have had misunderstandings with their superiors, who accuse them of siphoning fuel whenever the returns do not tally with projections.
“The current system in susceptibal to manipulation; what we need is a new computerised way of measurements,” Mugarura told The New Times.
The New Times understands government officials and other stakeholders last week visited the depot and new manual devices were installed.
The system is said to also affect drivers who transport petroleum products from Rwanda to other neighbouring countries, especially DRC and Burundi.
When this paper visited Gatsata oil depot yesterday, there was a long queue of trucks awaiting to load fuel.
The truckers said the system was also responsible for “unnecessary delays” at the depot.
“We have been here since last week and cannot load our trucks. Managers at the site are not even telling us what exactly is happening, we just hear that there is a system problem,” Papa Jesus, a truck driver from Bukavu, eastern DR Congo, said.
He said fuel stations in Goma and Bukavu were empty and were counting on truckers that had come to Rwanda for fuel.
Robert Opirah, the director-general in charge of trade and investment at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said there was a plan to install a digital monitoring system that will help sort out all the challenges.
“There is a plan to overhaul the metering system. We hope by next year a new computerised system to monitor all the five depots in the country will be in operation,” he said.
The new system will clearly indicate the exact statistics on how much is offloaded and loaded at all the stations.
The official, however, said although the meters are old, drivers were exaggerating the issue, noting that the Rwanda Bureau of Standards had calibrated the system and found it to be operating effectively.
“They (drivers) don’t determine what should be done, they have dramatised the issue, even the digital system can be manipulated if not monitored effectively,” Opirah said.
Rwanda has five oil depots located in various areas with the capacity of up to 30 million litres of fuel.