This move comes after several petroleum transporters were reportedly stuck in Kigali with their truck drivers at a loss on how to offload the fuel.
The drivers, mainly from regional countries, say that they have spent days with trucks loaded with petroleum and cannot return to their countries of origin. When importers explained their lack of storage, they said it is due to the low demand caused by the COVID-19 lockdown which stopped traffic and affected previous stocks.
One driver, Yusuf Salim, from Tanzania said that he has to pay for a parking fee of Rwf1000 per day and has so far spent three weeks in Kigali.
“This parking fee was reduced from Rwf2000 but it is still a challenge since we also have other expenses such as food and other needs,” Salim said.
Local petroleum importers on their side said that the Covid-19 pandemic caught them off-guard after ordering more products, and now they have to spend more on the maintenance of transporters.
“We have to pay $100 per day to the suppliers for their hired trucks that are spending extra days waiting to be offloaded. This is because we have nowhere to store their fuel; as the previous orders did not get consumers,” said Joseph Akumuntu, the chairperson of Petroleum importers in Rwanda.
The Minister of Trade, Soraya Hakuziyaremye said that the government will discuss ways of supporting Petroleum transporters to resolve the challenge of expenses caused by difficulties of finding storage facilities.
“We have received their complaints and we are considering providing customs facilitation where they can store this petroleum at some of the privately-owned petrol station storage facilities,” Hakuziyaremye said.
Rwanda has a capacity to store over 110 million liters of petroleum products per year, and the local market demand of about 600 million liters per year.
According to Minister Hakuziyaremye, the domestic economic impact of Covid-19 on the petroleum sector shows that a drop in local market demand for petroleum products has affected the sector by 50% and this is expected to continue.
“We, like any other country, have been affected negatively by low demand for petroleum products. We shall do an economic impact assessment on this area as we find ways of easing business for fuel importers, “Hakuziyaremye said.
On Wednesday, the trade ministry deployed a task force to evaluate the situation of the petroleum transporters and importers who are currently stationed in Gatsata and Rusororo sectors in Kigali.