By Chris Kiwawulo
A shortage of diesel has hit Kampala due to a delay of vessels that were bringing in the product through the Kenyan port of Mombasa.
The shortage has already seen some dealers increase the fuel prices although others have maintained the old prices.
Diesel has increased generally from sh3080 to as high as sh3200 at most filling stations.
A few stations have also taken advantage of the situation to increase petrol prices from sh3500 to sh3580 especially when their competitors run short of the products.
The increase has been noticed at several Shell, Kobil and Total filling stations in and around the city. However, some stations like Gapco Bwaise, Mo Petrol Kagoma and Total Keti Falawo along Bombo road were still selling petrol at between sh3450 and sh3500.
Diesel is the most used oil product in Uganda with over 1,585,000 litres used per day, according to the energy ministry data. But petrol which is consumed at 940,000 litres daily is now on higher demand.
A dealer who did not want to be named said there has been a delay in the supply of diesel in the last 10-14 days, forcing some dealers to increase prices out of speculation.
"There is a general shortage of diesel on the market. But it should not be a basis for increasing prices because the product is still on the market especially among big dealers," the dealer noted. He, however, anticipated that the supply would normalize by Monday next week.
Rajni Tailor, the petroleum dealers' national chairman said the shortage has been noticed not only in Uganda but also in Kenya. Tailor appealed to government to work on storage facilities arguing that; "Delays should not cause a shortage of fuel. Like I have said before, government should work on the reserves because when you have reserves you can run for a whole week even if vessels delay."
Tailor also suggested that the MV Amani ferry that is operating along the Port-Bell Luzira-Mwanza route should also be used to bring in fuel through Tanzania.
"The ferry has a capacity of loading up to 40 wagons," said Tailor. MV Amani with a seating capacity of 150 passengers is operated by Earthwise and plies the Port-Bell Mwanza and Port Bell-Kalangala routes.
In July this year, a shortage of petrol hit mostly Total filling stations in and around Kampala, resulting into panic buying by motorists causing the little available stocks to run out fast.
The shortage that was also caused by a delay in the vessel, resulted into hiking of petrol prices from sh3550 to as high as sh3900 with small dealers like Rio Oil, City Oil and Eagle, taking advantage of the situation.