Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Harare ‑ Zimbabwe will only be able to access fresh stocks of petroleum products if it manages to raise sufficient foreign currency to pay for the key commodity, with supplies dwindling and long queues at fueling stations becoming a daily occurrence.

The fuel supply situation was getting desperate, said motorists, some of whom slept outside filling stations in anticipation of deliveries which had not arrived by Wednesday morning.

The fuel shortages have resulted in public transport operators hiking commuter fares by as much as 50%.

Most of them said they are now procuring fuel from informal traders who are charging high prices and others only accepting foreign currency as payment.

The government has acknowledged the fuel supply challenges, with the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Zera) saying Tuesday that the situation would only improve if the central bank releases funds.

Zera said fuel stocks that were available in Zimbabwe were bonded and needed to be paid for upfront.

“Stocks in the country are healthy, but bonded and can only be accessed on payment,” Zera acting chief executive Edington Mazambani told African News Agency.

Crippling foreign currency inflows, exacerbated by limited foreign direct investments and curtailed exports, have worsened the situation, economists say.

“The monetary authorities have been apprised of the situation and are taking corrective measures. The shortages are due to foreign currency shortages only,” Mazambani added.

Zimbabweans have previously protested against fuel price hikes effected early this year as the government institutes austerity measures aimed at doing away with subsidies.

The government has approved further fuel price increases.

African News Agency/ANA