THE move to peg fuel price according to delivery distance from Harare has sparked outcry among consumers and business leaders who feel the move will disadvantage communities that are far from Harare.
On Monday, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) announced an increase in the price of fuel, with cities having different prices ranging from $10,01 to $10,56 for petrol and $10,32 to $10,86 for diesel.
According to the price list released by the authority, motorists in Matabeleland are now buying fuel at higher prices compared to what their counterparts in other provinces are paying. The increase comes a week after the authority reviewed fuel prices to $9,36 for diesel up from $9,27 while petrol went up to $9,12 from $9,09.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president for Matabeleland Chamber, Mr Shepherd Chawira, said they would soon engage authorities to express their displeasure over the pricing of fuel. He said fuel price disparities would affect prices of products produced in the region which logically would be more expensive compared to those produced say in Harare.
“It’s an issue that we are seized with as industry in Bulawayo because what we are saying is that the fuel price disparities will render all goods and services produced in Bulawayo uncompetitive and this also undermines efforts being made to revive the city’s industries,” he said.
In Victoria Falls for instance, petrol is now Z$10,80 per litre while diesel is Z$10,88. Motorists in the resort town said they were concerned as this will force many of them to park their vehicles amid fears public transport operators will also hike fares.
“Fuel is now very expensive. Transporters have started adjusting their fares with a one way trip now going for Z$6. We know we are far away from the fuel source but we cannot be punished for that. We are earning the same salaries that workers in other cities and towns are being paid hence we should pay the same prices for fuel,” said a taxi driver, Mr Ignatius Muleya.
He said they were already feeling the negative impact of the price disparities as commuters were now walking to town after they adjusted fares inline with the new fuel prices.
Commenting on the same, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union secretary general, Mr Japhet Moyo, said employers including Government should constantly increase salaries to cushion workers against such shocks as fuel price increases.
Many Zimbabweans took to social media platforms to express reservations over the decision to have different fuel prices for cities and towns and implored Government to reverse it.
Contacted for comment Energy and Power Development Minister, Advocate Fortune Chasi defended the decision saying the model was in line with international trends.
“If there was a pipeline from Botswana to Bulawayo naturally fuel was going to be cheaper in Bulawayo compared to areas far way such as say Muzarabani in Mashonaland Central province,” he said.
Minister Chasi said such pricing was being implemented in other countries.
“In South Africa for example, areas that are close to the coast where the fuel is warehoused, pay less compared to what motorists say in Musina and other areas pay.The same thing happens in Malawi but in Tanzania it’s different because the Government subsidises fuel so that the price is uniform throughout the country,” said Minister Chasi.
He, however, said it was important for the nation to come up with measures that will make fuel accessible across the country at a reasonable prices.
Minister Chasi said his ministry was therefore analysing several proposals to ensure fuel is provided at affordable prices across the country.
Association for Business in Zimbabwe chief executive officer, Mr Victor Nyoni, backed the minister’s stance saying fuel price disparities were justified taking into account business fundamentals. “We understand that there are transportation costs that will obviously cause variation in terms of the price of fuel and we all know that fuel has to be moved from Harare to various places,” he said.