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Botswana taps into strategic fuel reserves to ease shortages

GABORONE (Reuters) – Botswana has tapped into its strategic fuel reserves to alleviate shortages caused by import delays during the coronavirus crisis and also what the government has called panic-buying.

The southern African country has lifted a lockdown to contain the coronavirus but its borders remain closed, with only essential imports allowed and truckers tested for the virus and quarantined before they enter.

It has recorded a relatively low number of COVID-19 infections, with only 16 active cases and one death.

Many fuel stations in the capital Gaborone ran out of fuel in the past few days and there were long queues at those that still had supplies.

The fuel shortages have disrupted businesses and could exacerbate an economic contraction this year, when the government has said real gross domestic product could fall 13%.

Botswana consumes 3 million litres of fuel per day, and government officials say they normally keep 12 days of supply in the strategic reserves.

(Reporting by Brian Benza; Editing by Alexander Winning and Jane Merriman)

Botswana's President and leader of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Mokgweetsi Masisi casts his vote at his home village of Moshupa

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