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Paraffin scarcity hits Southern districts

Jan. 17, 2020 3 min read

3 min read

MASERU – The fall of the last year saw a worrying dearth of domestic paraffin around the country, and the problem has rolled into the new year – with the southern districts of the country hit the hardest.

The development saw most paraffin users left stranded as demand climbed, especially during the Christmas break when most migrant Basotho had returned home for the holiday.

Further, reports indicate that most Chinese-owned businesses which had large volumes of paraffin in store hiked prices and the price of a litre of paraffin ballooned from M10 to M12 in most areas.

Some consumers argued that economically there was nothing wrong in doing so because there was high demand and the prices as well had to go up, adding that was triggered by the market forces of demand and supply.

But a follow up by this paper revealed that this was the situation in just a few shops in the southern parts of Lesotho including Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing which were able to stock more paraffin before the scarcity of the product rocked the country.

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Some parts of the capital, Maseru, were also found to have been hit by the paraffin shortage.

The Director at the Ministry of Energy, Mokhethi Seitlheko, told this reporter that there were two main companies which supplied paraffin in the country – and that one of the two had reported that they had internal problems in distribution “but that they were able to attend to the problem during Christmas holiday”.

Mr Seitlheko said: “It is not all the garages that sell paraffin in the country that ran dry.”

He said he only knew of the paraffin scarcity around Christmas, but was informed that the problem extended into the new year.

This paper can report that even last weekend, there was still no paraffin in some districts; paraffin tanks were empty, putting school pupils under pressure as the shortage coincides with the reopening of schools this week.

“We have been running like headless chicken in the district in search of paraffin, it’s been days now,” Mahasele Rafolatsane said speaking to Metro - he runs a small shop on the outskirts of Mafeteng town.

He said the absence of paraffin in the district had had a devastating impact on his business’s cash flow.

“It feels so painful where you see people leaving your business with their money because you cannot provide them with paraffin,” Mr Rafolatsane said.

The paraffin said was used mostly by school going children when schools reopen, and that he would have made good money in profit had paraffin not dried up.

“People had come home and had money to buy,” Mr Rafolatsane said.

Last week the national Petroleum Fund announced a drop in fuel prices in the country, though the announced adjustment, however, painted a gloomy picture for diesel and paraffin users, with pump prices for both grades of diesel (diesel500 and diesel50) increased by 25 Lisente per litre while the wholesale price for illuminating paraffin saw a 15 Lisente hike.

This drop in fuel prices saw petrol 93 decreasing by 15 Lisente per litre while petrol95 was decreased by 25 Lisente per litre.

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