Tanzania police arrest oil firm bosses over fuel shortage


Tanzanian Police have arrested three top oil marketing firms' bosses for questioning as the country's authorities allege foul play over fuel supply.


They include Total Tanzania’s managing director Jean-Francois Schoepp, Puma Supply Manager Adam Eliewinga and Oryx’s representative August Dominick.


Officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations arrested the officials as they attended a consultative meeting between oil marketers and Energy and Water Regulatory Authority (Ewura) in Dar es Salaam. 


The police, however, missed Lake Oil’s Ally Awadh and Star Oil’s Vinod Vijayan who were not in attendance.


They were arrested on Monday at 4.30 pm at the LAPF towers in Kijitonyama Dar es Salaam where the Ewura offices are located.


Tanzania Oil Marketers Association executive director Raphael Mgaya told The Citizen that the executives spent the night in police custody and were yet to be released.  


“The arrested officials have been taken to the police headquarters...we are still waiting here to know their fate,” he said.


The agenda of the consultative meeting between Ewura and the petroleum marketing companies was reportedly to resolve fuel supply chain challenges.


The regulator is accusing oil marketing firms of disrupting the distribution of petroleum products in the country and causing artificial shortages.


It says some operators were hoarding petroleum at a time when prices have gone down. Neither the companies nor their association have spoken out on the matter.


Last week Ewura announced its intention to revoke the licences of five oil marketers over the matter.


The firms are Moil, Olympic Petroleum and three petroleum filling stations operators B.O Five Ways Petroleum Stations of Bagamoyo, Mexon Energy Limited of Makambako and Mexon Energy of Njombe Urban.


But on Monday, Mansour Oil Industries Limited (Moil) issued a public apology and agreed to pay a fine of Tshs10 million slapped by Ewura.


Ewura's Godfrey Chibulunje warned on Monday that the agency will not hesitate to withdraw licences of operators who flout the rules.


He also said the agency will develop new rules requiring all petroleum outlets to have contracts with their suppliers.  


Prices of petroleum products have dropped significantly in Tanzania in the recent past on the backdrop of declining global crude oil prices occasioned by a reduction in demand as industrial output in major economies remain low due to Covid-19.


Early this month, Ewura cut petrol and diesel prices by 18.65 percent and 16.25 percent respectively. 


During the month of June, Dar es Salaam motorists paid Tsh1,520 for a litre of petrol and Tsh1,546 for a litre of diesel, the lowest in 10 years.


This article was published by The Citizen.

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