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Cameroon Blames Fuel Shortage on Russia Sanctions

FILE - A driver poses next to his tanker truck at the border town of Garoua-Boulai, Cameroon, Jan. 8, 2021.
FILE - A driver poses next to his tanker truck at the border town of Garoua-Boulai, Cameroon, Jan. 8, 2021.

Cameroon's energy ministry has said Western sanctions on Russia have driven up the cost of fuel imports and led to a fuel shortage. The lack of diesel fuels this week left hundreds of trucks taking goods to the neighboring Central African Republic and Chad stranded at the borders.

Cameroon says thousands of buses, trucks and cars have been stranded in the central African country for two weeks by diesel fuel shortages. The shortage has left them unable to deliver goods to Cameroon’s landlocked neighbors.

Brilliant Chaba, a 43-year-old truck driver, said his truck transporting computers imported by Chad’s government through Cameroon's Douala seaport has been stuck in Cameroon's capital Yaounde for three days because of lack of diesel fuel. He said he is not sure he will arrive in the Chadian capital, N'djamena, within a week as expected. Chaba said he is running short of money to settle parking fees for his truck, buy food and pay for his lodging in Yaounde.

Moise Vokeng, president of the Cameroon Professional Transporters Network, said transporters are surprised that the government of Cameroon has not been able to provide diesel in the country for close to two weeks. He said perishable goods are going bad on their way to Chad and the Central African Republic. He added that the government should immediately import fuel, or the economic consequences of a fuel shortage will be difficult to contain.

Cameroon says Western sanctions on Russia imposed because of its invasion of Ukraine have created the fuel shortage.

The sanctions hindered Cameroon’s trade with Russia, which normally supplies more than half of Cameroon’s gasoline imports.

The government has not revealed the extent of the fuel shortage, but said it will import the necessary quantities from Africa and Europe.

Simon Pierre Omgba Mbida, an international relations specialist at Cameroon’s External Relations Ministry, said most African countries will be victims of the war of influence between Moscow and European nations, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine will have disastrous consequences on Africa's economy. He said some European countries erroneously think that the 57 member states of the African Union and the 27 member states of the European Union should take common positions on topical issues affecting the world. He said each African state, like European nations, has its interests that guide decisions it takes.

The United Nations says since the start of the year, oil prices have gone up by more than 60% and natural gas and fertilizer prices have more than doubled because of Russia's war on Ukraine. The U.N. says the war risks tipping up to 1.7 billion people, over one-fifth of humanity, into poverty, destitution and hunger.