Fuel shortages paralyze activities in Burundi

Fuel lines in Burundi

Fuel shortages have paralysed the central African nation of Burundi.

The problem has damaged two big foreign investors, Kenya’s KenolKobil and South Africa’s Engen, a subsidiary of Malaysian parastatal, Petronas.

The shortages, which forced the government to introduce rationing on May 16, have paralysed commerce and caused food prices to jump by around a third, raising the prospect of a wave of economic migration. More than 400,000 people have already fled Burundi into the volatile central African region.

Anti-corruption campaigners said the fuel shortages became severe after Burundian company Interpetrol Trading Ltd. received the lions’ share of dollars that are allocated by the central bank to import fuel.

“The oil sector is undermined by favouritism and lack of transparency, because the rare hard currency available in the central bank reserves is given to one oil importer,” said Gabriel Rufyiri, head of anti-graft organisation OLUCOME.

Interpetrol’s lawyer, Sylvestre Banzubaze, said: “I am not associated with the day-to-day operations and only intervene on legal questions. You should address your questions directly to Interpetrol sources.”

He did not respond when asked for further contacts and the company does not have a website.

Rufyiri said that government sources told him that the bulk of dollars for fuel purchasing had been allocated to Interpetrol since March this year.

Reuters/UO