By Nqobile Tshili
Bulawayo is facing an acute shortage of liquefied petroleum (LP) gas resulting in its price shooting up by 80 percent since mid-December.
For the past week Bulawayo residents who use LP gas have said they have been experiencing challenges accessing the product.
Gas usage has been on the increase in the country over the past few years largely due to power outages and the fact some suburbs are yet to be connected to the Zesa grid.
Other residents use it as a substitute especially when there are power cuts.
A kilogramme of LP gas was being sold for between US$1,20 and US$1,30 but following the latest shortage it has gone up to around US$2.
Residents who spoke to Chronicle yesterday said the shortage has become a serious inconvenience to them as those who have the product have resorted to profiteering.
Mr Nkosana Phiri of Pumula suburb said gas has become a necessity so any shortages create problems.
“For the past week I have been trying to buy LP gas but most of the traders say they do not have it and are waiting for deliveries. Actually, across the festive season we have been experiencing problems accessing LP gas. This requires the intervention from Government just like when there are fuel shortages because some of us who live in houses without electricity heavily depend on it,” said Mr Phiri.
He said at the moment those who have the product have increased the price.
Another resident Ms Sibusiso Moyo from Pelandaba West speculated that the shortage could be countrywide.
“My house is yet to be connected to electricity so we use gas as an energy source. Without it, life is unbearable. I even asked a friend who frequently travels to Plumtree to buy it for me in that town but he also said there are shortages there. So now I don’t know how widespread the problem is. We could be talking about a national problem,” said Ms Moyo.
An LP gas vendor operating from Pumula South attributed shortages to recent congestion at Beitbridge Border Post which has resulted in delays in clearing cargo.
“Our supplies are said to have been stuck at the border. This is what we have been told. So, since we’ve been told that the situation is normalising at Beitbridge Border Post, we hope normal supplies will resume but at the moment I have gone for more than two weeks without getting any supplies. But those who have it are now selling for US$2 or R40,” said the vendor.
Reached for comment, Energy and Power Development Minister Zhemu Soda yesterday said he was yet to be briefed about the issue.
Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority communications officer Mr Gladman Njanji requested questions in writing but had not responded by last night. The Chronicle.