... As Fuel Prices Go Up By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Here we go again! As expected, the price of fuel will be going up tomorrow. The retail price of petrol will increase by 75 cents a litre, from last month's 44 cents increase, the Ministry of Mines and Energy announced on Friday. Diesel will also go up by 66 cents, 14 cents less than last month's increase of 80 cents. The fuel price increase means unleaded petrol will now cost N$9.95 a litre in Windhoek, while leaded petrol will go for N$9.93 and diesel will cost N$11.50. At the coastal town of Walvis Bay, the pump price for unleaded petrol will be N$9.75 while leaded petrol will cost N$9.73 and diesel N$11.30 a litre. Towns in the far south of the country such as Keetmanshoop will see unleaded petrol going for N$10.11 while leaded petrol will sell at N$10.09 and diesel N$11.66. At Oshakati, a litre of unleaded petrol will cost N$10.01, leaded petrol N$9.99 and diesel N$11.57. In Katima Mulilo, diesel will cost N$11.57, while leaded petrol will go for N$10 and unleaded petrol will sell at N$10.02 a litre. Crude oil prices surged to a record US$146 a barrel last week on supply concerns, raising fears of further fuel hikes in non-oil producing countries like Namibia where burdened families are already reeling from the rises. "During the month of June, the international crude oil prices hovered around US$143 a barrel which means crude oil prices continue to surge and supply remains tight worldwide. This situation has rendered the crude oil markets to remain tight and bullish making it difficult for non-oil producing countries and their economies," Minister of Mines and Energy, Erkki Nghimtina, said. In Namibia, the situation has put tremendous pressure on the National Energy Fund with under recoveries being in need of compensation while fuel transportation to far and remote areas also needs subsidization. At the moment, "The National Energy Fund is overwhelmed with a huge balance to settle as a result of high under recoveries experienced in the past months," the ministry said. Households Feel the Pinch Already, Namibians are struggling to cope with stubbornly high fuel prices that might soon see many walking to work and school. The pump prices are ballooning at an alarming rate which equally results in increased food prices pushing thousands of the country's poorest deeper into poverty with many likely to go hungry as food prices skyrocket. "I have a car that is now parked at home. I cannot afford to drive it at all times because of high fuel prices. Moreover, I have other needs such as paying school fees for my children, rent and food," says Johannes van Wyk. Just last week the City of Windhoek announced an increase in basic municipal service tariffs. Electricity went up last week by 12, 3 percent, water by 10 percent, sewerage by 12.0 percent and bus fare by one Namibian dollar. "Things are going from bad to worse. Because of the increase in the price of everything it is simply difficult to meet all the household basic needs," commented Saima Ndeitunga, a civil servant and housewife. Service Station Owners Mourn The ever-increasing fuel prices have not only affected motorists but service station owners have bemoaned lack of profit in the industry. Some service station owners told New Era that the industry is going through a tough time as profit margins constantly shrink. Since the beginning of the year, most service station owners have reduced their orders by 30 percent, one industry player revealed. "In the early 1990s fuel profit margins ranged from nine to eleven percent but since the advent of price increases, we are at four percent," lamented one service station owner in Windhoek, who declined to reveal his identity. He added that most service stations across the country are surviving on bank overdrafts and bank charges/interest rates are not making it any easier for players in the industry. "At the rate things are going, most operators are going to be bankrupt. We are going through a very, very difficult time," said another service station owner. The source also complained of high rentals charged by oil companies. He revealed that most service station infrastructures are owned by oil companies and rentals range between N$50?
2008-07-07 00:00:00 10 years ago