Need for level-headedness

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Dear Editor,

I STRONGLY appeal to the Petroleum Transporters Association of Zambia (PTAZ) secretary-general Benson Tembo, not to compel members of his organization to defy Tanzania’s new Vehicle Load Control Act which came into effect on January 1, 2019 or influence them to take it upon themselves by not only blocking Tanzanian tankers, but also parking theirs at the border and create a fuel crisis in Zambia.

But if he does, he will plunge our beloved country into a fuel crisis which would be far worse than the senseless fuel crisis which the country experienced a few months ago when Zambian tanker drivers decided to effect a work stoppage and parked their vehicles (“Local transporters fume over Tanzania’s restrictive law”, Daily Nation, December 31, 2018).

The PTAZ secretary-general must therefore be level-headed while mandarins at the Zambian Ministry of Transport and Communication together with their counterparts at Ministry of Energy look into PTAZ’s concerns.

However, since Tanzanian authorities have allegedly continued imposing restrictive measures aimed at discouraging Zambians from ferrying government fuel so that the business could be left to their citizens, it is imperative therefore, that the Zambia Tanzania Railway Authority (TAZARA) should seriously think of diversifying into fuel transportation and participate in the haulage of the over 500 million litres which the Zambian government imports via Tanzania every year.

Little do PTAZ top honchos realise that the haulage capacities of the fuel tanker trucks which range from 20, 800 to 43, 900 litres per tanker as opposed to the railway fuel wagon’s haulage capacity of 70, 400 litres per fuel tank wagon could easily put them out of business should TAZARA seriously decide to get fully involved in fuel haulage from Tanzania and that our country’s development starts with a steady fuel supply.

Besides, TAZARA two years ago signed deals to transport millions of litres of fuel for DR Congo and Malawi whose total consignment was in excess of 60 million litres.

Although the commercial viability of these deals were yet to be established at the time, but they had brought huge expectations and hope in the railway sector.

The questions should perhaps be: Would the notorious fuel-shortage curse strike again when Indeni Petroleum Refinery in Ndola gets closed for its usual annual maintenance in 2019? What would happen when PTAZ tanker drivers decide to put into effect the threats of parking their vehicles at the border in defiance of Tanzania’s new Vehicle Load Control Act?

If TAZARA got involved in fuel transportation by rail, how could that change things of fuel supply in Zambia?

At the moment, though, nothing would seemingly be agreeable behind the scenes or in front of the scenes in sharing the business opportunities between PTAZ and TAZARA in ferrying government fuel from Tanzania.

MUBANGA LUCHEMBE,

Lusaka.

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