Drivers Wait 8 Hours to Refill in Ethiopia

Drivers Wait 8 Hours to Refill in Ethiopia
Fuel shortages at pump stations in Ethiopia worsened this week.

Fuel shortages at pump stations in Ethiopia worsened this week, with motorists in the capital Addis Ababa waiting as long as eight hours to refill.

The pain is poised to bite harder after the government on Tuesday announced a 38% increase in the price of diesel as it plans to stop subsidizing fuel. Commuters were seen waiting for hours before they could get rides. Vehicles formed long queues around gas stations in Addis Ababa and other cities across the country.

“I have never seen such kind of diesel shortage before,” Kafiya Seid, a motorist in Addis Ababa, said on Tuesday. She’d waited five hours before getting a chance to refill. “Yesterday, there was almost no station in the city that was selling diesel.” 

Fuel crises are spreading across several African countries after oil prices surged following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In Mozambique, transporters only ended a rare protest after the government pledged to subsidize fares. Shortages loom in Ghana as the central bank rations dollars needed to import the commodity.

Authorities in Ethiopia increased the price of diesel by 38% to 49.02 birr ($ 0.9) a liter, while benzene climbed 30% to 47.83, the trade ministry said in a statement. The adjustments are part of the government’s plan to gradually remove fuel subsidies within a year, according to the statement. The new prices will be in effect for a month, starting this week.

The crisis in the Horn of Africa country, which also faces a shortage of foreign currency, has been exacerbated by marketers hoarding the product in anticipation of higher prices, said Tadesse Hailemariam, the chief executive officer of the Ethiopian Petroleum Supply Enterprise.

The fuel shortage is yet another challenge for Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who last month began an offensive against rebels accused of killing civilians in the west of the country, and is dealing with recent clashes around the border with Sudan. Dissidents in the northern Tigray region fought Abiy’s government since November 2020 until a truce was declared in March this year.


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