Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT will withdraw licences for fuel service stations found promoting acts of hoarding and overcharging of petroleum products thereby creating artificial shortages, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Energy and Power Development Minister, Dr Joram Gumbo, said in an interview at the weekend that Government has noted with concern uncouth practices in the supply of fuel by some unscrupulous service stations and individuals, who continue to accelerate perceived shortages countrywide.
He said in an effort to curb hoarding his ministry would forthwith issue a directive to service stations to stop serving individuals using any form of containers.
“Those using tanks, drums and jerry cans all, those forms of containers should stop and we are sending out inspectors and the Zimbabwe Republic Police and if anybody is going to be found maybe overcharging or using drums might have their licences withdrawn. We are not going to allow that,” said Dr Gumbo.
He also said Government would not hesitate to crack the whip on errant oil companies that are demanding motorists to pay for fuel in foreign currency.
“We also had to warn some of the companies that we heard were demanding forex for fuel because it’s not their responsibility because the forex that we use to buy fuel from Msasa or Mabvuku or international companies is sourced by Government. So, there is no point in an individual company demanding payment for fuel in foreign currency and some of them were saying they were only serving their clients with coupons from their companies that should not happen,” said Dr Gumbo.
He said the Ministry held talks with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to consider increasing its foreign currency allocation for the purchase of fuel by oil companies.
“There are enough stocks of fuel, we have not run out. There is sufficient fuel in the country but for us to access that fuel we need forex and the demand for fuel caught everyone by surprise. So, what we have been doing for now is negotiate with RBZ that they can increase the fuel allocation they give to companies . . . my (ministry) officials and officials from RBZ met . . . and the indication is that RBZ has agreed and are going to consider increasing the allocation, which they give to oil companies,” said Dr Gumbo.
He also said in the meeting he held with oil companies it was suggested that RBZ should consider raising foreign currency allocation to around $30 to $35 million per week up from the $20 million it was previously allocating.
To ensure improved deliveries the Environmental Management Agency has given oil companies a reprieve to move fuel during the night. Energy and Power Development permanent secretary Engineer Gloria Magombo reiterated that the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has intensified monitoring of fuel service stations in a bid to ensure efficient supplies to motorists.
“Zera is also monitoring compliance in the market and general distribution,” she said.
Eng Magombo however, said the public should refrain from panic buying as it was causing artificial shortages. She also urged motorists to desist from buying fuel from the black market as doing so might be hazardous to their vehicles. — @DNsingo