Testifying before a parliamentary committee on Wednesday, Harare’s town clerk Nomutsa Chideya said the city council was now buying fuel from the black market, but was still unable to provide proper emergency services or conduct repairs.
“We have not received diesel for the past four weeks. We are not able to attend to any sewerage or water pipe bursts because all our vehicles are grounded,” the state-run Herald newspaper quoted Chideya as saying.
He said only one fire engine in the city had a quarter tank of fuel, adding: “For the sake of our residents, we would rather buy the fuel on the parallel market.
“We have sunk, we cannot operate effectively,” he added.
Crippling fuel shortage
Zimbabwe raised petrol and diesel prices by over a 100% a week ago, an increase the government said was needed to keep up with international prices.
Where petrol can be found, prices have surged from 10,000 to 22,300 Zimbabwe dollars (40 to 89 US cents) per litre, while diesel shot up from 9600 to 20,800 Zimbabwe dollars.
Zimbabwe petrol pump prices
Chideya said the Harare Municipal Council used to receive 30,000 litres of fuel a month, which had been now slashed to 10,000 litres.
Harare is now a shadow of its former self when it was known as one of southern Africa’s most modern and cleanest cities.
Residents grapple with erratic electricity and water supplies, the roads are pockmarked with potholes and most of the streetlights have not been working for months. City hospitals are critically short of equipment.
The fuel shortage and the latest price hike have led private bus operators – who provide transport for most of the commuters in the Harare region – to double their fares.
Police have subsequently threatened to arrest any bus operator charging “illegal” fares.
The private operators say, however, that they have no choice but to raise fares as they are forced to buy fuel on the black market at far higher rates than the state public transport company.