The Sunday Mail
GOVERNMENT and players in the petroleum sector have agreed on a host of measures in the dealing of the precious commodity, which has been scarce since the end of last year with its trading characterised by some illegalities.
The agreements were reached on Wednesday at a meeting that brought together the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Advocate Fortune Chasi, officials from Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) and petroleum sector representatives.
The indaba was triggered by the fuel policy changes introduced last week that saw Government removing a subsidy on fuel imports.
Among the measures agreed upon, was the need for an efficient and effective system to coordinate the distribution of fuel to ensure it is availed rationally in accordance with demand.
ZERA has since been tasked by the parent minister to come up with a comprehensive report mapping and detailing consumer demand trends.
In addition, Government is also looking into introducing an electronic monitoring system for the entire fuel value chain to curb corruption at service stations.
Last week ZERA increased prices of fuel by averages of 46 percent for blend petrol and 49 percent for diesel. The increase followed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) directive to fuel importers to obtain foreign currency on the obtaining interbank market rates.
Previously, oil marketing companies were receiving foreign currency from the RBZ at a special rate of 1:1 between the US dollar and RTGS dollar.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Minister of Energy and Power Development Fortune Chasi said Government was coming up with interventions to help restore sanity in the fuel sector.
“I held a meeting with the (players in the fuel) industry yesterday (Wednesday), all stakeholders in the petroleum industry were represented and we agreed to meet regularly, that is quarterly,” he said.
“I emphasised the need for professionalism in the conduct of their business. In particular, I said that they must observe licence conditions.
“I also emphasised the need for self-regulation and should this fail, I will have no choice, but to initiate legal reforms to compel compliance.
“I also said that there is need for coordination in distribution, so that fuel is distributed rationally and deliberately in accordance with needs.
‘‘They (fuel players) are working on this with ZERA and I expect it soon.
“In addition, we were all agreed on the need to establish and ensure order in the industry. In that connection, I pointed out that I am actively looking into electronic monitoring of the entire value chain of the industry.
ZERA acting chief executive officer Mr Eddington Mazambani said they were already taking action to curb hoarding of fuel.
He said service stations had been directed to dispense a maximum 600 litres of fuel to an individual, stop fuelling bowser and those intending to purchase fuel in jerry cans, will be served at a know your customer basis.
“However, these new measures excludes any prior arrangements that had been made between service stations and customers.
“We are also looking at gaps in the law to see how it can be amended to ensure we have more powers.
“ZERA is also working on setting up real time online monitoring system which will be installed at service stations.
“We will continue monitoring compliance from service stations and checking quality of fuel from around the country.”
Zimbabwe has been experiencing fuel shortages over the past few months with some fuel traders accused of channelling the commodity to the black market.
Foreigners have also been accused of hoarding the commodity and selling it in neighbouring countries.