INCESSANT dreary power cuts coupled with ever rising fuel prices have adversely affected the pharmaceutical wholesale industry’s operations in the last three months.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Zimbabwe has had to endure 18 hour long power cuts, thus affecting productivity.
In an interview, Pharmaceutical and Chemical Distributors director Prashant Shah said they wrote to Zesa informing them of the critical nature of their business but haven’t received a response.
We run on generator for 18 hours a day. Cold chain management is a major problem as costs escalating due to fuel consumption,” he said adding that fuel costs are going up together with delivery costs.”
Pharmaceutical Wholesalers of Zimbabwe president Mr Kudakwashe Chapfika noted that capacity utilisation for local pharmaceutical industry has further dwindled due to increased power cuts.
“The cost of operating using alternatives such as generators is high and less friendly due to shortage and price increase of diesel as well. The power cuts have caused the industry to operate on a 3 day working week , with reduced product availability,” he said.
He added that some essential medicines are being affected.
“Some of the products like vaccines and insulin require continous cold storage at 2-8 degrees Celsius , so both Wholesalers and Retailers have scaled down on storage of these medicines , prompting serious shortages on the market,” said Mr Chapfika.
“The local running costs have also been quite significant and this has increased in the last three months because of the power issues. Increasing running costs in the form of back up installations and operations due to daily power cuts. Those in industry will tell you they have plants or warehouses which have air handling units which have to be running continuously without ceasing,” he said.
With the weekly increase of fuel prices, wholesalers Mr Mwendera said the sector is pumping out money for 300 litres worth of fuel every two to three days.
“And for that to happen they need diesel maybe 200-300 litres every three days. Diesel is not easily available but they have to have that in their standby generator so that it runs for 18 hours when ZESA is not available,” he said.
He also said they incinerated some critical medicines recently which were lost to poor cold chain management.
“We have also significantly lost cold chain items due to power cuts. We had to incinerate a batch of insulin which unfortunately the cold chain was broken at the facility because they didn’t have power. The guys didn’t understand why they needed a standbye facility, coldroom facility for this particular consignment. They just took it like anything else but to us that is essential medicines,” said Mr Mwendera.