The Ministry of Trade and Industry has said that it will support Petroleum importers in Rwanda who are currently facing storage and distribution challenges as a result of low consumption under the current coronavirus lockdown.
This comes after several petroleum transporters are reportedly stuck in Kigali with their truck drivers spending days without offloading the fuel.
The drivers, mainly from regional countries, say that they have spent days with trucks loaded with petroleum and cannot return to their countries of origin.
Importers who placed the order told them that they did not have storage since low demand caused by the COVID-19 lockdown which stopped traffic affected previous stocks.
Some of the affected truck drivers say that they are already feeling the direct impact. One driver, Yusuf Salim, from Tanzania said that he has to pay for a parking fee of Rwf1000 per day and has so far spent three weeks in Kigali.
“This parking fee was reduced from Rwf2000 but it is still a challenge since we also have other expenses on food and other needs,” Salim said.
Local petroleum importers on their side said that the Covid-19 pandemic caught them off-guard after ordering more products, and now they have to spend more on the maintenance of transporters.
“We have to pay $100 per day to the suppliers for their hired trucks that are spending extra days waiting to be offloaded. This is because we have nowhere to store their fuel; previous orders did not get consumers,” said Joseph Akumuntu, the chairperson of Petroleum importers in Rwanda.
In response, Trade Minister Soraya Hakuziyaremye said that the government will discuss ways of supporting Petroleum transporters to resolve the challenge of expenses caused by difficulties of finding storage facilities.
“We have received their complaints and we are considering providing customs facilitation where they can store this petroleum at some of the private owned petrol station storage facilities,”Hakuziyaremye said yesterday.
Rwanda has a capacity to store over 110 million litres of petroleum products per year, and the local market demand of about 600 million litres per year.
According to Minister Hakuziyaremye, the domestic economic impact of Covid-19 on the petroleum sector shows that a drop in local market demand for petroleum products has affected the sector by 50% and this is expected to continue.
“We, like any other country, have been affected negatively by low demand for petroleum products. We shall do an economic impact assessment on this area as we find ways of easing business for fuel importers, “Hakuziyaremye said.
On Wednesday, the trade ministry deployed a taskforce to evaluate the situation of the petroleum transporters and importers who are currently stationed in located in Gatsata and Rusororo sectors on Kigali.