For customers’ own good, fuel prices were hiked. – Ugandan fuel dealers.
Ugandan gasoline sellers have justified recent price increases, claiming that they were implemented to ration the few available inventories rather than for profiteering purposes.
Fuel costs in the nation have been steadily growing since early last year, but this year prices increased by Shs 1,300 per litre, with certain areas seeing a Shs 5,000 increase. On Saturday, fuel prices in Kampala rose to Shs 5,700 while diesel prices rose to Shs 4,400 per litre in certain areas.
The gasoline shortfall was linked to a halt in supplies when truck drivers stopped their vehicles at the Malaba and Busia border ports in protest of the $39 COVID-19 testing requirements. The government has recently succumbed to public pressure and begun testing drivers at no cost, but the roughly 30-kilometer car line at the border hasn’t made matters any easier.
Furthermore, there was a minor technical hiccup at the Malaba border-post on Saturday when the cargo scanners failed. By Saturday evening, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) claimed to have cleared over 200 trucks, 82 of which were in Busia alone. Fuel stations began to run empty as a result of the near-halt in supply, resulting in the high pricing.
According to a government statement made on Friday, the demand for petroleum had been growing even before the truckers’ strike since the economy was beginning to recover from the COVID-19 sanctioned lockdown.
TotalEnergies Nakulabye station manager Fred Nairongo says he is unsure when their next shipment would arrive, but that he expects to run out of stock by today, Monday. He expects that if the trucks come by the end of the week, the situation will have improved by the end of the week.
However, Denis Acuka, the manager of Rubis Nakulabye, claims that the shortage is driven by a variety of issues, some of which may be beyond Uganda’s ability to address. He claims that supplies from Kenya was already low prior to the drivers’ strike due to a delay in the international supply chain.
The spokeswoman for Vivo Energy Uganda, Val Oketcho, forwarded all queries to the Ministry of Energy, which either refused to answer or accept calls. When asked why they increased the price when there was a shortage, both station managers claimed it was to curb the rush for the items.
Acuka claims that their central office directed them to raise the rates when daily demand increased from 3,000 to 4,000 litres in order to discourage demand and distribute the stock in lesser amounts each day. This, according to him, was done to ensure that the stations did not run dry unexpectedly.
Nairongo claims that despite price increases, its sales have more than quadrupled in the previous few days due to tremendous demand. However, while the larger market participants are seeing higher sales, the smaller stations are struggling to attract clients due to high costs.
An attendant at AS Oil in Kawempe said that despite fewer consumers coming in due to the high pricing, the station could not make a cut since the items were supplied at a high cost.