Fuel Shortage hits Tigray, writes The Reporter

15 Oct

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

Rate of daily arrivals from Eritrea increased exponentially

Given the type of vehicles that are coming from Eritrea, each car will carry at least 400 litres per day 

Fuel trucks returning to Eritrea after buying needed amount of fuel from Tigray. Reporter’s photo. i

Following the opening of the border of the two countries, there is a significant increase in the transit of vehicles. In light of these, according to the data gathered from Tigray Urban Development, Trade & Industry Bureau–on average, 1,000 vehicles arrive at Tigray with the figure sometimes going up to 2,000. The vehicles mostly are automobiles, few freight vehicles as well as public buses.

This resulted in a shortage of Benzene in towns of Tigray, particularly Mekelle, Adigrat, Axum, Wekro as well as Adewa. Those who have arrived from Eritrea prefer to feel their cars here in Ethiopia given the price advantage as well the limited accessibility of the product in Eritrea.

“The problem needs a solution,” Daniel Mekonne, deputy head from Tigray Urban Development, Trade & Industry Bureau told The Reporter.

Given the type of vehicles that are coming from Eritrea, each car will carry at least 400 liters per day, he added.

The shortage which is mostly attributed to growing business activities in the borders towns is also promoted by other factors, The Reporter has learnt.

There are few fuel and gas distributing companies who has gas stations in those affected towns, which recently, have stopped supplying given the lawsuit by the Ethiopian Petroleum Supply Enterprise.

“As a result of this, we are not getting benzene which was supposed to come via those distributors,” said Daniel.

“We know about the shortage,” Tadesse Hailemariam, CEO of The Enterprise told The Reporter.

In related news, a new report from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees which was released last week has indicated that the reopening of the border has also resulted in an increase in number of people arriving from Eritrea.

From this, 90 percent of the new arrivals are women and children, according to the report. This is in contradiction to the current feature of refugee camps in Tigray, which is dominated by young men.

The average daily rate of arrivals is increasing from 53 to approximately 390 individuals, reads the report. Between September 12 and October, 02, 2018, a total of 6,779 refugees were registered at the Endabaguna Reception Centre with a further 2,725 awaiting relocation at the border to Endabaguna.


The Ethiopian Observatory (TEO) makes the following observations:

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Eritrean Nakfa (fixed exchange rate)


              Click to magnify

Ethiopian Birr National Bank rate in its managed float operations

A one year historical exchange rate of the Ethiopian Birr

Historical exchange rate of Birr from XE Oct 15, 2017 to 15 Oct 2018
Click to magnify.

Not all things are produced in Ethiopia. Those it does not produce, Ethiopia imports, especially wealthy ones, although Ethiopia has been a country — even during its double-digit growth years—a country that has never known—forget abundance of foreign exchange—not even half a year’s supply!

We all know now the earnings from good years of growth, as reported by international sources, were spirited out of the country.

Consequently, there has always been scarcity of sugar, oil, wheat, medicines, schools supplies, building materials, etc. The prices of those products are determined — theoretically by the market. However, during the past 27 years Ethiopians have known, at least better than TPLF’s revolutionary democracy and its developmental government, wherever the market is properly organised and law-governed, it has invariably determined the prices of goods based on their quality and availability— not mischiefs.

To determine prices, such a market in turn requires as many buyers and sellers participating in the market. Of that, the eminent conservative economist Milton Friedman is quoted as having remarked elegantly: “The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.”

In the Tigray market, today there is only one buyer. It’s also the same seller — the TPLF and its EFFORT!

Part of the dilemma of Ethiopians now is also the fact that, as citizens and in keeping with past feudal and un-transparent political tradition, the Abiy Administration has been tight-lipped on the terms of trade it has entered into with Eritrea— in particular the Nakfa exchange rate regime— which is fraught with future troubles for Ethiopia-Eritrea commerce. 

As administrator of Tigray Region, what has the TPLF done to address the current problem of scarcity of fuel, as Eritreans drive into Tigray and, in keeping with their individual needs, relieved their fuel problems their country could not provide? The action by Eritreans is consistent with that of all humans in situations of scarcity and excessive shortages!

Everything I state here is not in any sense directed against the people — but TPLF greed and blindness. Note that Daniel Mekonnen of the Tigray Urban Development, Trade & Industry Bureau told The Reporter “The problem needs a solution”.

This situation arose in Eritrea, partly because of the disability the TPLF has brought upon them! Was the TPLF held back from acting as supposedly as state leader, or is it disabled by its guilt, under the current circumstance?

Or this situation arose because some TPLF members saw this Eritrean pressing need for fuel and other products as their source of enrichment: by selling for Nakfa and turning it into dollars and keeping in foreign banks?

It’s possible the TPLF may have focused on its own solutions that as usual serves its interests— not of the people of Tigray!  For that, it has equated regulating the situation with leaving the door wide open for our Eritrean brothers to come and exhaust the meager supply of fuel and etc., which Ethiopia imports with its depleted foreign exchange resources!

Why this TPLF generosity now to the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PEFDJ), as if it had not been persecuting it at all international fora until less than half a year ago, including advocating sanctions not to be lifted? One only needs to consider the report of the United Nations Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) to the Security Council (S/2017/924) of November 2nd, 2017.

In its paragraph 229, the SEMG recommended for Security Council action of “disassociating the Eritrea and Somalia sanctions regimes.” This was because it had found no evidence of Eritrean terrorism in Somalia or anywhere else in the Horn of Africa.

To be honest, in the circumstances I don’t have the fullest answer to any of the above questions!

Nonetheless, skepticism being a second nature to Ethiopians, i.e., without dropping any hints, today most Ethiopians prefer to distrust the TPLF ‘gesture’ to Eritreans. 

As a political force that finds itself caught between its present opportunism toward Eritreans and mortal enmity to the reformist Ethiopian group in power at this moment, it’s only contriving, if it could, to bring down the administration in Addis Abeba.

In that, its strategy is two-pronged. It aims at frustrating the unfortunate Tigrean people with scarcity. For over half a century, it has been masquerading as their protector, although now treating them as collaterals.

While paying lip-service to Eritreans, TPLF strategy is to bring down the Abiy Ahmed Administration.

Meantime, all known TPLF criminals would, with consent of the mafia organisation, continue to use Tigray as their hiding place from justice!

It’s my earnest hope Ethiopians and Eritreans would strengthen their fraternal ties in peace and dignity!



One Response to “Fuel Shortage hits Tigray, writes The Reporter

  1. Alem October 22, 2018 at 19:25 #

    This is nothing short of pickpocket diplomacy. It is a shame and to Ethiopia’s longterm disadvantage that Isaias/Eritrea should be allowed to play such a critical diplomatic role. Isaias a pariah just couple months ago is now a regional peacemaker! Isaias the survivor is collecting all the levers of influence and Ethiopian leaders are dead asleep on “medemer” drug. It is Isaias leading the way in signing agreements with Arabs. It is Isaias mediating on behalf of Olf leader Dawud Ibsa. It is Isaias for Onlf. It is to Isaias that Oromo and Amhara regional state delegations pay a visit as well as sign agreements. It could be to Isaias that Dr. Abiy would shortly be turning to for his own personal security needs because no one understands Tplf better than Isaias does! You are nuts if you believe for a second that Isaias is worthy of Ethiopia’s trust having a record of brutalities against his own people. Remember Isaias is the one who got our country to where we are today. Another problem? Dr. Birhanu’s Ginbot 7 and Esat (Abebe Gellaw crowd) are already in the pocket of Isaias and Dr. B will not be sounding the alarm against Dr. Abiy ceding control of Ethiopia’s economic and regional security. Yet a persistent problem is the inexperience of Workineh, Hailemariam, and Abiy. The question every well-meaning Ethiopian should be asking is this, What has Ethiopia gained so far from deals with Eritrea? We can’t be shipping loads and loads of goods forever to revive Eritrea that is progressively taking advantage of the fragile situation in our country. Ethiopia’s cross-border trade should be as between two sovereign nations and not as local on the reasoning that “we are one people and don’t need borders.” It was a similar fuzzy sentiment that ignited the war of 1998 and 2000. Call me a pessimist but Ethiopia is fast losing to the machinations of Isaias. Isaias is a murderous survivor and will take full advantage of Ethiopia’s insecurity.


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