Cyclone Idai holds up Zimbabwe’s wheat and fuel supplies

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    Harare – Logistics challenges stand in the way of Zimbabwe’s wheat and fuel supplies which are held up at the Beira Port in Mozambique in the aftermath of the devastating Cyclone Idai occurrence.

    According to the Grain Millers Association Zimbabwe, 100 truckloads of wheat are held at Mozambique’s Beira port which is inaccessible at the moment because of damages to the road network and some of the port’s facilities.

    At a parliamentary hearing in the capital on Tuesday, the association’s President Tafadzwa Musarara said the lack of access to the grain could worsen an already precarious position.

    He said some of the grains received over the last few days from Beira was wet, also impacted by the cyclone.

    Zimbabwe has grappled with a lack of adequate of wheat supplies for a couple of years now and the situation had been compounded since 2016 as forex challenges worsened amidst demand growth.

    RBZ and the Grain Millers Association has been working closely to facilitate supplies. Although the efforts have been commendable a huge market gap remains in place.

    Over the last few months bakers have sought to increase the price of bread to address the challenges but government’s hand has been visible in controlling the price, thus hampering supply.

    Elsewhere the Minister of Transport and Energy also announced on Monday that fuel supplies are held up at Beira as the Feruka pipeline has been affected by the Cyclone. He however allayed shortages, charging that the country had adequate reserves.

    Cyclone Idai is an intense tropical cyclone which is the strongest tropical cyclone to strike Southern Africa in a decade. The tenth named storm and record-breaking seventh intense tropical cyclone of the 2018–19 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season, Idai originated from a tropical depression that formed off the eastern coast of Mozambique on 4 March.

    The depression made landfall later in the day and remained a tropical cyclone throughout the entirety of its trek over land. On 9 March, the depression re-emerged into the Mozambique channel and was upgraded into Moderate Tropical Storm Idai next day.

    The system then began a stint of rapid intensification, reaching an initial peak intensity as an intense tropical cyclone with winds of 175 km/h (110 mph) on 11 March. Idai then began to weaken due to ongoing structural changes within its inner core, falling to tropical cyclone intensity. Idai’s intensity remained stagnant for about a day or so before it began to re-intensify.

    On 14 March, Idai reached peak intensity with maximum sustained winds of 195 km/h (120mph) and a minimum central pressure of 940 hPa (27.76 inHg). Idai then began to weaken as it approached the coast of Mozambique due to less favorable conditions.

    On 15 March, Idai made landfall near Beira, Mozambique, as an intense tropical cyclone moving into the eastern parts of Zimbabwe.

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