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External forces fuelling drivers’ strike – ERB

KELVIN CHONGO & NAMANGOLWA MUSHOKABANJI, Lusaka
THE Energy Regulation Board (ERB) says some foreign fuel transporters are allegedly financing protests by local transporters to create an artificial shortage of fuel and anarchy in the country.
And ERB executive director Langiwe Lungu has warned that the regulator will be forced to engage other transporters if the tanker drivers do not resume work.
Ms Lungu said in an interview yesterday that: “The current stoppage of work by the tanker drivers is not due to commodity shortage but a scam by some petroleum companies that include a company which used to be owned by a politician.”
She, however, assured that the nation has sufficient stocks of fuel and that the current shortage has nothing to do with inadequate stocks.
“I would like to make it very clear that the stoppage of work by the tanker drivers is not due to fuel shortages but due to working conditions being demanded by the tanker drivers,” she said
Ms Lungu said that there are sufficient stocks of fuel in the country and that disruption in supply has been caused by tanker drivers who are fronts of some politicians.
She said it is unfortunate that the drivers are making ridiculous demands from the government for them to resume work.
“The drivers have stopped work and demanding unreasonable conditions such as minimum salary wage of K10,000 and that Government must cancel its oil contract with Dalbit and engage Trafigura Oil Company.
“We had a meeting with the representatives of the workers and we are calmly resolving these issues at hand. So there is no need for the people to panic, as we have sufficient fuel in stock,” Ms Lungu said.
She said as a regulator, ERB directly deals with complaints and it always strives to engage other boards when need arises.
“We are working with ministries of Labour, Home Affairs and the workers association to ensure concrete resolutions are made. If at all we fail to meet these resolutions, there are always other alternatives, that is, to engage other transporters to start hauling fuel immediately,” she said.
Ms Lungu warned said that Government will engage other petroleum transporters if the tanker drivers do not resume work.
She said it is unfortunate that the tanker drivers want to hold Government at ransom.
Meanwhile, CHISHALA MUSONDA reports that tanker drivers have asked Government to stop Dalbit Petroleum of Kenya from importing fuel into the country because the firm is allegedly depriving Zambians of job opportunities in the petroleum sector.
The drivers have stopped lifting fuel from the Ndola Fuel Terminal, Lusaka, Mpika and Solwezi depots for onward delivery to filling stations countrywide.
Union for Tanker Drivers and Allied Workers (UTDAW) spokesperson Musa Musumali said in Ndola yesterday that Dalbit’s operations in Zambia have allegedly affected the business for local fuel transporters.
“Until this issue is addressed, drivers will not start lifting and delivering fuel from the Tazama terminal to filling stations.
“Government should terminate the contract of Dalbit. A foreign company should not be importing fuel on behalf of our Government,” he said.
Mr Musumali said local transporters should be empowered with contracts so that the tanker drivers can also benefit.
And Petroleum Transporters Association of Zambia (PTAZ) spokesperson Benson Tembo said: “Through the relevant government agencies, we have submitted our grievances but the people entrusted to handle the matters are pushing issues to the central government.”
Meanwhile, some filling stations in Lusaka yesterday had fuel while others were expecting the commodity by the end of the day, LINDA NYONDO reports.
A snap check by the Daily Mail revealed that there was enough fuel at most filling stations on Cairo Road and Great North Road.
This was generally so at Puma filling stations, but some Total filling stations had no fuel and attendants had no idea when supplies would be delivered.
Petroleum transporters on Monday went on a go-slow demanding that Government should meet their demands that include a minimum salary wage of K10,000.


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