October 11, 2005

Energy minister sacked

Energy minister George Mpombo and his permanent secretary have been removed with immediate effect from their post amid rising public anger over a fuel crisis that is disrupting daily life and strangling the economy. Lack of fuel has halted public transport and led to the suspension of food supplies in some areas. Fuel shortages began after technical problems forced the closure of the country’s mail oil refinery.

The country's largest copper mine, the Konkola Copper Mines, estimates that its operations might be suspended if the fuel situation did not improve. Among the key areas of operation include a smelter and furnace which process copper ore before it is exported to other countries. The company uses a substantial quantity of diesel in its daily operations and has not had fresh supplies delivered due to the shortage the country is experiencing. The company is currently rationing fuel at its mines, with operations scaled down to about 50% to keep the mine operational. Other copper mines have equally been affected by the fuel shortage and have also cut back their operations.
Government has announced that would allow oil marketing companies to directly import finished products in order to end the crisis. (The Time of Zambia, Ndlola)

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