Accessibility links

Breaking News

Cameroon's Drivers Protest as Fuel Shortage Spreads

FILE: Traffic outside the entrance to the Yaounde General Hospital in Yaounde on March 6, 2020.
FILE: Traffic outside the entrance to the Yaounde General Hospital in Yaounde on March 6, 2020.

Authorities in Cameroon say thousands of vehicles have been halted by a fresh scarcity of fuel caused, in part, by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Cameroon's government says it's been forced to spend nearly half-a-billion dollars in fuel subsidies since Russia's February invasion, as western sanctions have hindered trade with Moscow.

More than 100 drivers pack a filling station in the Etoudi neighborhood of Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé, Friday, honking their horns to protest a fresh fuel shortage.

The drivers say their incomes have nosedived since Yaoundé ran short of fuel this month and the scarcity spread to other towns.

Yves Honore Minka is with the waste disposal company Hygiene and Sanitation of Cameroon (HYSACAM) in Ebolowa, on the border with Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

He says the town of Ebolowa and its surroundings are a mess because his company's waste and refuse collection vehicles have been halted by a lack of fuel. Minka says his company will be able to resume refuse collection only after diesel fuel becomes available.

Cameroon’s government says several thousand public buses, taxis, and trucks are not in use because of the fuel shortage, the second one to hit the country since April.

Some of the vehicles were destined for the neighboring Central African Republic, Chad, and Gabon, slowing regional trade and transport.

Cameroon’s energy minister, in a press release Monday, again blamed Russia and its invasion of Ukraine.

Western sanctions for Russia’s assault have hampered its trade and led to volatile, higher prices for oil and gas.

Cameroon buys more than half its gasoline from Russia, one of the world’s top suppliers of petroleum products, wheat, and fertilizer.

Veronique Moampea Mbio is director general of Cameroon’s Petroleum Distribution Company (SCDP). Speaking Friday on Cameroon’s state broadcaster, CRTV, she said Cameroonians should be patient.

Mbio says the shortage of petroleum products is provoked by the inability of marketers to pay the surplus sums of money requested before delivery of fuel. She says banks are reluctant to exceed credit limits to marketers of petroleum products because regular loan repayments may be hindered by unpredictable market prices.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed global oil prices above $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014, while those for natural gas and fertilizer have more than doubled. Cameroon’s government says it has already spent $485 million on fuel subsidies since Russia’s invasion in February and may need to spend more than $1 billion this year.

Mbio says Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya, has ordered the government to immediately pay needed subsidies for petroleum products to be imported in coming weeks.