Clampdown on fuel traders

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has threatened to clampdown on unlicensed fuel traders.

Gloria Magombo, Zera chief executive, said the illegal dealers were short-changing customers by selling fuel at unregulated prices.

“We will soon embark on a joint operation with the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Environmental Management Authority and local authorities,” she said.

Zera regulates any persons or private companies involved in the production, procurement, distribution, transportation and retailing of the following fuel products for commercial purposes in Zimbabwe.

Following the deregulation of the of the fuel industry in 2005, Zimbabwe has witnessed a phenomenal growth of the sector with the coming in of more indigenous players.

Magombo noted that the energy industry regulator is also in the process of tightening monitoring of illegal fuel sales which do not comply with safety standards, denying the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority tax money and unfairly compete with the duly licensed dealers.

“The main objective of our monitoring and compliance visits across the country is to ascertain the number and geographic spread of petroleum retailers in the country as well as their compliance to the licensing requirements stated in the Petroleum Act,” she said.

Hugh Sagonda, Zera’s licensing officer said the deregulation of the sector — which witnessed the licensing of 30 fuel importers and 222 retailers — has brought its fair share of challenges.

“Through our random fuel quality check programme, we discovered that some service stations are mixing unleaded petrol/ diesel with paraffin,” he said, adding that blending petrol and diesel with paraffin is done by fuel dealers so as to increase their profit margins since paraffin is a cheaper product.

“Zera strongly condemns the blending of diesel/petrol with paraffin because these mixtures have adverse effects on the public’s motor vehicle engines,” he said.

Sagonda noted that the mixing of illuminating paraffin with diesel and unleaded petrol causes a lot of damage to both diesel and petrol engines.

“While some of the damages that occur might not be immediate, the prolonged use illuminating paraffin mixed fuels has adverse effects on engines.

Rectifying the damages caused by illuminating paraffin mixed fuels can cost a lot of money and in some cases the life span of an engine is completely cut by this malpractice,” he said.

Zera was created in September 2011 following the promulgation of the Energy Regulatory Act (Chapter 13:23) which provides for regulation of the energy sector and other sections not provided for by the energy laws, the Electricity Act (13:19) and Petroleum Act (13:22).

The Energy Regulatory Act repealed some sections especially those related to the formation of the regulatory institutions in the Electricity Act (Chapter 13:19) and Petroleum Act (Chapter 13:22). - John Kachembere

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