Government’s decision to undertake two more upgrade phases on the Harare-Feruka pipeline to enable it to pump 7,5 million litres of fuel per day is a noble idea that addresses a number of factors.
From a planning perspective, the upgrade of the 208km long Harare-Feruka pipeline, which is owned and operated by Petrozim Line (Pvt) Limited, will allow Zimbabwe to pump fuel that is above its normal requirement of 4 million litres a day.
The country is literary living from hand to mouth at the moment because we are just pumping our maximum requirement, which is risky if there are any supply interruptions along the pipeline that require time to address.
Increasing the pumping capacity from 4 million litres to 7,5 million litres will allow the country to have stocks of fuel creating a buffer in case of supply interruptions. This is a critical aspect of forward planning that is required in any country, especially ours to keep the economy moving.
In the same vein an increase in pumping capacity will enable the country to move more fuel via the pipeline than by road, which is more cost effective. It costs $0,08 a litre to transport fuel by pipeline from Beira to Msasa in Harare, while the haulage companies charge $0,09 a litre over the same distance.
This means that if all the fuel is pumped via the pipeline we will save a lot of money, which will help lower fuel costs. It will also reduce the extent of the road damage caused by fuel tankers as they shuttle between Harare and Mutare.
The 263km stretch is part of the Plumtree-Mutare Highway, which was rehabilitated a few years ago using a $206 million loan from the Development Bank of South Africa.
It is critical that the Government through the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development ensures that this national infrastructure is protected from damage by limiting the number of heavy vehicles that travel along this highway.
This will ensure that the road will remain in good condition for a longer period, freeing resources that will have been used to repair any damages, to be deployed towards the rehabilitation of infrastructure in other parts of the country. Using the pipeline to transport fuel will also help in the fight against the smuggling of fuel into the country.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has in recent months been introducing several initiatives such as the electronic cargo tracking system to curb the vice, which is prejudicing the country of millions of dollars in taxes.
The system was credited with assisting Zimra in intercepting four tankers at Chirundu Border Post, which were carrying 140 000 litres of water purported to be diesel that was in transit to the DRC.
The State lost close to $55 000 after the fuel which entered the country through Forbes Border Post under the RIT facility was emptied in Chitungwiza and replaced with water.
The use of the pipeline could easily deal with such cases as all the fuel will be transported via a common conduit and it is easy to track its movement.
We, therefore, applaud the move that is being made by the ministry and hope that we shift towards a situation where all the fuel is transported via the pipeline.