Felex Share Senior Reporter
Government has liberalised the importation of fuel with Cabinet yesterday giving big companies with free funds the green light to import fuel for their own consumption. This is meant to augment supply gaps in the market. Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa confirmed the development while addressing journalists after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.
This comes as Cabinet also resolved that the ongoing partial privatisation of ZUPCO, which is in sync with public enterprise reforms espoused in Government’s Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), be expedited to boost recapitalisation of the company.
On the liberalisation of fuel importation, Minister Mutsvangwa said: “Cabinet received the weekly supply situation report from the Minister of Energy and Power Development. In order to close the fuel supply gaps in the market during the course of the week eight million litres of diesel were released into the market. Following the release of funding by the RBZ, the fuel supply situation is now expected to stabilise as the week progresses. Furthermore, Cabinet has given a green light to large companies such as those in the mining sector to use their funds to import fuel for their use.”
In 2015, Statutory Instrument (SI) 171 was amended to allow members of the public to import up to 2 000 litres of fuel per month for personal use.
However, the legal instrument was repealed two years later through SI 122 of 2017, which stipulated that only companies licensed in terms of Section 29 of the Petroleum Act were allowed to import fuel. The market is currently plagued by intermittent stock-outs, which are negatively affecting individual consumers and businesses.
Energy and Power Development Minister Joram Gumbo said individuals will not be allowed to import fuel on their own.
“Government has given the green light to mining companies and those in the farming sector to import fuel using their own funds,” he said.
“At the moment no individual is allowed to do that. Regarding the issue of diesel, it is true that last week there was shortage of diesel and the His Excellency allowed us to use stragetic reserves to bring in diesel to mitigate the situation as we were allowing oil companies to do their usual ordering of fuel into the market. We hope that come end of week, things will have stabilised for both products.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet deliberated on ways of improving ZUPCO operations.
“Cabinet resolved that ZUPCO be capacitated through recruitment and training of critical personnel thereat,” she said.
“It resolved that an electronic ticketing system be introduced to increase revenue collection and service efficiency and that the options to either import finished buses and/or knocked down kits for assembling locally be speedily concluded. Cabinet also mandated the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development together with the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and other related key stakeholders to assiduously work on revamping the country’s urban mass transport system, beginning with Harare and Bulawayo.”
She said for Harare the programme will incorporate aspects such as completion of the Airport Road and the flyover towards Enterprise Road and construction of ring roads and flyovers around Harare to decongest and bring sanity in the Central Business District (CBD).
Installation of an electonic traffic management system consistent with the smart city concept,she said, should also done under the programme.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo said the ZUPCO system was progressing well in all urban areas.
“We have been able to cover our vehicle operation costs and that is important,” he said.
“The hiring of those vehicles is like your capital expenditure that we have not been able to cover right now. So there is an element of subsidy that we are doing but we are happy that the operations can cover fuel and salaries. We think we can create a viable system in urban areas. We are fine- tuning because in some areas we put too many buses and we are downsizing. In some areas like Harare we had to increase the number of buses because the commuter omnibuses were having difficulties in accessing fuel.”
He said Government was paying each bus $700 per day.
“We charged a flat rate of $700 RTGS per day, “ said Minister Moyo.
“We expected at that time that each bus will run nine trips but those have not been achieved because of congestion. So the subsidy in the first month was larger than normal but we think that in the next month it is going going to be lower. We are now fine-tuning with the bus owners for us to pay for a bus that has done work.”