Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Government has started implementing a tracking system to plug leakages in the supply of fuel that have exacerbated shortages in the market.
This was said by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa while presenting the 23rd Cabinet Meeting Decision Matrix yesterday.
“The Minister of Energy and Power Development (Fortune Chasi) briefed Cabinet on the prevailing fuel and power supply situation in the country,” she said.
“The Minister informed Cabinet that during his engagements with players in the fuel supply chain, it had become clear that the sector was still riddled with business malpractices which militated against the smooth supply of the product to the market.
“As part of the measures to address this unsavoury state of affairs, a system to track the movement and distribution of fuel was already at the initial stage of installation.”
Minister Chasi said players in the fuel industry had made proposals on how to address leakages.
“I was with them yesterday (Monday) and there are proposals which they have made and once we agree on certain positions we will be able to communicate,” Minister Chasi said.
“We want to work together, we want to create an environment that allows businesspeople to make money, but without making the public suffer. So as I say we still have malpractices and I warned the industry yesterday that the hour will come when we talk about renewal of licences. But if we need to do it earlier we will do so to protect the interests of the public that consume fuel.”
Minister Chasi said Government wanted to understand the movement of fuel from the time it gets into the country up to the time it is sold at services stations.
Some players in the sector have been accused of accessing foreign currency on the inter-bank market, but divert forex to the black market.
With regards to liquefied gas, Minister Chasi said he had engaged players in the sector to discuss ways of regulating the industry.
He said there was no need to come up with pricing and safety mechanisms to safeguard the public following a surge in demand for the commodity due to the prevailing electricity shortages.
“That is a commodity that has been very well embraced by the public. Many people are resorting to gas and it’s a popular network which we need to popularise,” he said.
“However, it’s an area that hasn’t been regulated and we need to come up with a framework and we are working on that.
“I met players in the sector last week and we agreed on matters that we need to address and we are going to have a follow up meeting, but in addition to that we also need to create the necessary regulatory environment that encourages investors in this sector.
“However, of major concern is the issue of pricing because there are people who still believe in the black market era who come up with all sorts of prices.”
Meanwhile, Minister Mutsvangwa said investors that were awarded licences to establish power stations risk losing them if there is no progress in their investments.
“The Minister (Chasi) briefed Cabinet that his ministry was already working on an integrated power development strategy, amid indications that several investors were quite keen to invest in power generation projects in the country,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.
“The minister is also currently assessing the status of the various energy projects, so that, where necessary licences can be cancelled and new bidders invited for those projects that have not yet taken off the ground.”