GITEGA November 2nd (ABP) – The Minister of Trade, Transport, Industry and Tourism, Mrs. Capitoline Niyonizigiye and the Minister of Hydraulics, Energy and Mines, Mr. Ibrahim Uwizeye were guests of the plenary session of the Senate on Thursday where they answered questions, oral with debate, focusing in particular on the strategies and measures taken to alleviate the repetitive shortage of drinks produced by BRARUDI, of cement produced by BUCECO, of fuel that disrupts the ” access to those products and leads to higher prices for these products and those of other dependent items and services as well as the problem of public transport during peak hours
The senators asked for the motives of the recurrent fuel shortages and the adequate strategies adopted to ensure the regular supply of this product and therefore those of other commodities and or services.
The Minister of Hydraulics, Energy and Mines, Mr. Ibrahim Uwizeye replied that the Government is making every effort to ensure that fuel, which is a staple product, is available in sufficient quantity and therefore accessible to applicants and at official prices. Nevertheless, he lamented, certain factors beyond the goodwill of the Government occasionally cause delays in the supply of fuel. He cited among other things the increase in tariffs on the international market, the regular fluctuation of the Burundian currency. He also mentioned the speculation of certain importers who may import a quantity less than the requested currencies, which creates shortages and consequent speculation. He warned anyone who will be caught in that cheating by meaning that they are being punished according to the law. It is in this very perspective that we have removed from the list of importers those who have been accused of intentionally reducing the quantities of fuel to be imported. The Minister called on those involved in the fuel trade to break away from all forms of speculation in order to practice loyally.
When asked whether INTERPETROL would not have had a monopoly on importing fuel, the Minister refuted that statement by specifying that there are other importers. For its part, the Government will do everything possible to ensure the regular supply of fuel in sufficient quantity and the control of compliance with official prices.
The senators also asked the Minister about the strategies adopted to improve access to water by the population of the urban center of the political capital of Gitega, which currently faces water scarcity. The Minister replied that studies are underway to be able to increase the production of drinking water to be supplied to downtown Gitega.
The senators also asked the reasons for the frequent power cuts in the districts of the economic capital of Bujumbura. The Minister replied that this linked to the dilapidated underground electricity network and its replacement requires significant financial resources. He meant that we have already started the process of mobilizing these resources. On the question of knowing the state of play of the extension of rural electrification of communes not yet served, the Minister indicated that this project is one of the Government’s priorities.
The senators also asked the Minister of Trade, Transport, Industry and Commerce the causes of the long queues of passengers observed at the parking lots of the buses that serve the neighborhoods of the Town Hall of Bujumbura during peak hours. They also called for strategies adopted to remedy this situation.
The Minister of Trade replied that this situation is linked to the problem of economic operators who are not numerous to invest in this sector while the number of passengers has increased significantly. She invited economic operators to organize themselves in cooperatives in order to be able to have the financial means to buy public transport vehicles.
When asked whether the OTRACO buses could not contribute to cope with that deficit, Minister Niyonizigiye replied that almost all OTRACO buses are obsolete and deserve to be replaced. The few buses that are still functional provide transport for students during peak hours and serve a few axes in the neighborhoods, but some customers express fears about their obsolescence. She added that they are concerned about the revitalization of the functioning of OTRACO and are working to analyze the mechanisms to achieve this.
To the question of the reasons for the repetitive shortages of beverages in BRARUDI observed for a certain period at the national level, the Minister indicated that BRARUDI evokes the situation linked to the Covid-19 pandemic which causes the delay in the supply of imported raw materials and in the delivery of spare parts. She also referred to the demand which has increased significantly in relation to the supply. As for people who suspect fraudulent trade in some of those drinks to neighboring countries, the trade minister said she is not aware of it. It meant that they are studying the solutions
When asked about the reasons for the frequent shortage of cement produced by BUCECO, Minister Niyonizigiye replied that demand has increased significantly and has exceeded the production capacity of this factory which is considering increasing its production capacity. The senators also recommended the regulation of the prices of imported cement to alleviate the speculations displayed in the fixing of its prices.