The shortage, according to the government, was caused by a broken supply chain as a result of priority berthing for ships that brought in fuel for transit to neighbouring countries. This led the local market to dry up for lack of timely replenishment as oil marketing companies (OMCs) were left with no other alternative but to sit and watch.
Under international laws, Tanzania is obliged to allow landlocked countries to use its ports for shipments freely. This has been a normal practice for decades and the nation has never experienced such a huge embarrassment. This shows that there is a serious problem somewhere which needs a sober head to tackle, otherwise such problem is likely to occur again.
The move by the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo, last week to dissolve the Petroleum Importation Coordinator (PIC) board was the right decision at the right time though it was long overdue. This is because PIC, which is tasked to supervise oil importation under the bulk procurement system (BPS) introduced in January this year, has failed to live up to expectations.
The new PIC board, which is to be inaugurated this week, must also ensure all culprits who were behind the broken supply chain must be sanctioned and if possible prosecuted. It’s time the government also tasked the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) board over the shortage, which could have been avoided anyway if its management acted swiftly when some parts of the country went without the commodity for over a month.
The national economy, which depends much on the oil sector, cannot afford to suffer again as a result of inefficiency by a few individuals who are all out to benefit from silent laws and regulations about their performance. Looks like some selfish officials at both PIC and EWURA did not work as per their terms of employment.
This led to importation of sub-standard fuel into the local market and yet, the two bodies never took action against the supplier. It’s time now the government acted resolutely against all officials who were behind the fuel shortage to ‘soothe’ public outcry on the fiasco.