07 April 2014, Addis Ababa – Drivers and vehicle owners working in different towns of the Gambella Regional State are facing a major fuel shortage. The problem stretches to most of the towns in the western part of the country. The Reporter witnessed hundreds of vehicles including trucks, pickups, SUVs as well as three-wheeled bajas stuck on the main roads.
Hundreds of vehicles line in a very long queue waiting for long hours. Some Drivers told The Reporter that they had been forced to wait to get fuel from the station. Because of fuel shortage, they said that they were forced to incur extra cost from tariff that ranges from four to seven birr for each liter of petrol.
“Three days ago I bought a liter for 24 birr while the normal tariff set by the government was 19.3 birr,” Derb Mekuria told The Reporter while waiting for his turn in the long queue to fill gas at a Total station. The drivers also said that the black market was the main reason that had exasperated the fuel shortage in the market.
Another driver named Tidu said that he had faced similar challenges in other towns after he left four days ago while he passed Jimma, Agaro, and Metu towns. He lamented that they were unable to carry out their regular business. In addition, the woes of the public were joined by the international organizations that are operating in the region.
As a lot of international and local organizations operate in Gambella, most of theses organizations, including the UN agencies, also suffer from the fuel shortage. A driver who talked to The Reporter on the condition of anonymity said, “Our organization, the WFP, FAO and the UNHCR, try to buy extra fuel as a reserve but all of us suffer from the shortage despite most of their field activities demands urgency.”
A month of fuel shortage occurred in Addis Ababa and other major towns too. The government reportedly accused fuel stations for creating artificial shortage by hoarding huge amount of oils while there is no problem in the national oil reserve.
However, in Gambella drivers appealed to the government to take action against those who engage in illegal transportation of oils from town to town with barrels.
– The Reporter