Rumbek hit by fuel crisis as dealers disagree with govt over pricing

Operators of fuel stations in Rumbek on Friday closed their stations after disagreeing on fuel prices with the local government.

Operators of fuel stations in the Lakes State capital, Rumbek, on Friday, closed their stations after disagreeing on fuel prices with the local government, leading to an acute shortage of fuel in the town and its environs.

The local government insists that dealers sell fuel at SSP 2,400 per liter. In contrast, the fuel station operators contend that 3,200 is more realistic considering the pound’s depreciation against the dollar, transportation, and other costs.  Petrol and diesel sell at SSP 10,000 per liter in the black market in Rumbek town.

The manager of Rapid Fuel Station in Rumbek, Adhal Fatah Juma, however, told Radio Tamazuj Friday that the fuel crisis was caused by scarcity. He said only two petrol stations, his and another, are currently working but that they will run out of fuel tomorrow.

“We are currently selling both diesel and petrol at SSP 2,400 per liter. A few days ago we requested our government that we sell at 3,200 so that we can deal with the crisis but they have not given us feedback up to now,” he explained. “Most of the petrol stations are not working because they do not have fuel in stock. I also have little fuel left and it will run out by tomorrow. Our request to the government is to sell fuel at SSP 3,200 and we are waiting for their approval.”

Fatah faulted the strong dollar for the fuel crisis in Rumbek and high importation costs.

“The price of the U.S. dollar has been fluctuating. Fuel in Juba now costs SSP 3,000 and all the fuel stations there are now working. We import fuel from Kenya to Rumbek and if fuel is SSP 3,000 in Juba, we cannot sell it at 2,400 in Rumbek and that is why many petrol stations stopped working in Rumbek,” he stated. “We requested our government in Lakes State to allow us to sell fuel at SSP 3,200 and we are waiting to hear from them.”

For his part, Joseph Makur, a boda-boda rider in Rumbek, confirmed to this publication that fuel stations are closed, leaving them confused because fuel in the black market is prohibitively expensive.

“The price of fuel is too expensive and one liter is now SSP 10,000 in the black market. When we enquired from the fuel stations why they are closed, they said that the problem is the dollar and that they do not have a problem,” he said. “The fuel scarcity is affecting our work and we do not know what to do because everything in the market is now expensive.”

Meanwhile, the coordinator of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) in Lakes State, Daniel Laat Kon, also confirmed that most of the fuel stations in Rumbek are indeed closed and that it has led to an acute fuel scarcity which is concerning.

“The price which was agreed between the government and the fuel station managers was SSP 2,400 but when the dollar went up to SSP 2,000, the fuel station managers decided to increase the fuel to 3,000 per liter but that agreement did not work well with the government and this is what made the dealers close down fuel stations,” he said. “Our concern is that fuel stations have closed because of SSP 3,000 yet the government is allowing 1.5 liters of fuel to be sold at SSP 10,000 in the black market. Now, we are asking the government what the difference is if you accept and listen to the demands of fuel station managers that they increase fuel to SSP 3,000?”

According to Laat, most motorists have parked their vehicles because it is hard to get fuel.

“We appeal to the state to reconsider their decision and listen to the demands of the fuel dealers with fuel stations,” he concluded.