JUBA, South Sudan – “In September there was no fuel anywhere,” Samson Kamuya says.
The exhausted 45-year-old hangs his head. He’s been waiting four days at a gas station in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, to no avail.
Wedged among hundreds of cars, trucks and desperate civilians carrying empty jerry cans, he says the fuel situation is unlike anything he’s seen in his eight years as a driver.
It is a cruel irony in the world’s youngest nation: Ninety-eight percent of South Sudan’s economy comes from oil, but the country faces one of its worst fuel crises since civil war began in 2013.
South Sudan has Africa’s third-largest oil reserves, with 3.5 billion barrels. Based on government figures, current production should bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year. But without refineries, the country exports crude oil and must import fuel.
Some observers blame the government and Nile Petroleum, the sole state-owned oil company, for nationwide fuel shortages.