Dar es Salaam. Authorities confirmed yesterday that fuel prices have risen for a second time in one month in somewhat bizarre circumstances that have left motorists with more questions than answers.
Basically, the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (Ewura) announces new fuel prices during the first Wednesday of the month - and the last time to do so was on July 1, 2020 when a litre of petrol wa pegged at Sh1,693 in Dar es Salaam.
But in a somewhat bizarre occurrence, petrol is now trading at a price of Sh1,838 per litre in a number of filling stations in Dar es Salaam and marketers say the ‘secret’ price rise has Ewura’s blessings.
With the first Wednesday of August just around the corner, motorists can only expect a third round of price adjustments within one month.
“It is true that prices have changed and the new ones were announced via social media platforms,” the petroleum commissioner Adam Zuberi told The Citizen yesterday.
He did not mention any specific social media platform where information on fuel price rise was carried.
Until yesterday, the only information regarding a change in fuel price on Ewura’s website was one that was made on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. Ewura could not comment on the matter for the past two days for reasons only known to the energy and water utilities regulator.
Energy minister Medard Kaleman was not available on his mobile phone yesterday.
His deputy Subira Mgalu said she had travelled outside Dar es Salaam and was not aware of what had transpired.
“I am not aware….but will contact relevant authorities including Ewura or the Minister in charge of the docket for details,” she said.
Ewura Consumer Consultative Council (Ewura-CCC) executive secretary, Mr Goodluck Mmari said his office would contact Ewura for discussions and way forward on the matter.
“I am currently in a meeting that is not related to that issue but I understand that Ewura officials are currently in a meeting to discuss the matter and I believe they will communicate to the public,” he said.
He said however that the rules governing the trading of petroleum products allow the regulator to approve a price adjustment in times of emergencies like shortage, piracy and among others.
“Ewura is allowed to announce price adjustments when there is an emergency….Whether prices will be reviewed again during the first Wednesday of August can only be communicated by Ewura. All we have informed the regulator is to ensure that the public of aware of any decision that it intends to take,” he said.
A random field visit conducted by The Citizen in the commercial capital on Wednesday revealed that while the price of petrol had increased that of diesel and kerosene remained unchanged.
The survey further established that some stations were still selling within the limit announced on July 1 with other operators not selling it at all.
Tanzania Association of Oil Marketing Companies (Taomac) executive secretary Raphael Mgaya said there was an issue with traders who failed to offload their petrol at the Dar es Salaam port in time incurring extra costs which they now need to recover.
“Some fuel companies were financially stressed in May due to Covid-19 and therefore could not off load their petrol since they failed to pay banks for letter of credit (LC). As a result, there were costs accrued from storage and defaulting,” said Mr Mgaya.
“These firms applied for petrol price hike to recover the costs estimated at Sh145 per litre. Ewura approved this change effective July 27,” he told The Citizen on Wednesday.
Asked about the petrol these firms were selling while their stock was at the port, Mr Mgaya said the companies were selling the stock that had remained in the previous month.
Petroleum activities in Tanzania are governed by the Petroleum Act, 2015, Cap 392.
Under Section 30 (f) of the legislative piece, Ewura is vested with the function of approving applications for tariff and prices in the sector.
Section J (1-2) empowers Ewura to protect the interests of customers, suppliers and the government as well as the public from dangers arising from regulated activities.