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Severe Fuel Shortages Hit South Sudan's Capital

  • Manyang David Mayar

South Sudan shut down oil production in January, 2012. (H. McNeish/VOA)

South Sudan shut down oil production in January, 2012. (H. McNeish/VOA)

Another widespread fuel shortage has hit South Sudan’s capital, Juba. Fuel suppliers blame the shortage on the scarcity of foreign money. They say the lack of dollars is making it hard to import fuel from neighboring countries.

Dozens and dozens of motorists have been waiting in line, their cars stretching around a city block at gas stations. Many others don't even bother. Car owners and motorcycle riders - locally known as “boda-boda” - are scrambling for their share of the little fuel that is left at Konyo Konyo Market.

This scene has become routine for the last three days as motorists often wait for hours to get a few liters of fuel.

Fuel shortages have become more frequent in South Sudan, as the decline in the South Sudanese pounds makes foreign currency almost non-existent. But Boro Joseph Nagip, a deputy manager with Hass Petroleum, says this shortage is not only caused by a scarcity of foreign dollars.

“There is a shortage of petrol in East Africa so they don’t allow a particular quantity of fuel to get out, particularly in Uganda and Kenya now, because of that,” he said.

Nagip says hopefully the problem will be solved in those two countries over the next few weeks and once again South Sudan will receive normal fuel shipments. As for his company, Nagip says it has not been affected by the recent crisis.

“Because we are a company registered with the Kenyan pipelines and our supply comes directly all the way from the gulf, we are the only company in the whole of South Sudan that is registered in the Kenyan Pipelines," he said. "The rest, they are not registered so they can’t get that opportunity.”

With Hass petroleum stations severely overcrowded and other stations shut down, a sense of mistrust is developing between fuel suppliers and buyers. Motorists and boda-boda drivers at Assawiir Petrol Station have parked their vehicles. Assawiir Petrol worker Madut Marol says they refuse to leave.

“Our fuel got finish recently. We told boda-boda members that you go away but they don’t [want] to leave. They said that they are going to sleep here.”

The shortage began not long after South Sudan shut down its own oil production in January in a revenue-sharing dispute with Sudan, which owns the pipelines. Sudan’s decision to close its borders to trade with South Sudan also contributed to the ongoing fuel shortage.