LPG players petition Zera over gas cylinders
Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) wholesale players have appealed to their regulator to review the July 31 deadline which requires them to have their own branded 48kgs gas cylinders, and not to use cylinders not traceable to licensed brands.
The conditions by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) also require LPG wholesalers to meet the minimum fixed storage capacity of 40 tonnes and not sell LPG gas to unlicensed retailers, failure to do that will have their licenses revoked.
Members from the Liquified Petroleum Gas Association of Zimbabwe (LPGAZ) said they are ready to comply with the regulator’s directive but are appealing for an extension of the deadline as most of their cylinders purchased overseas are still to be delivered.
LPGAZ chairman Mr Gift Patsika said all their members have since purchased the branded cylinders from China but will only be delivered post-July deadline.
“These tanks are imported from China, India and Turkey and as such it takes a bit of time to get them.
“Covid-19 and the recent earthquake in China slowed down the shipment of some of the tanks, we appeal to the regulator for a dialogue to find a lasting solution to this,” he said.
He said industrial and domestic LP gas might be in short supply if the regulator chooses to cancel the licenses of players who have already purchased cylinders abroad.
“The little gas available in the country will be very expensive working the demand-supply notion. We are already in winter and the demand for electricity and gas goes up,” he said.
A wholesaler in the LPG industry Mr Lazarus Chigova said whilst they wait for delivery of the cylinders there is a need for the regulator, wholesalers and clients to be educated on the good procedures to follow when using the new requirement.
“We are ready to comply as indigenous business people despite the huge cost of buying at least 400 units of 48kg cylinders, all we are requesting is for the regulator to take heed of our plea so that our work becomes easier.
“Cancelling this license will mean that all other people on the employment chain will lose their jobs, which is against the President’s vision of making Zimbabwe an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
Another player, Mr Addmore Chiwota said revoking licenses without proper engagements with players will lead to a spike in prices.
“We don’t want a situation where the prices of gas will be beyond the reach of many as it is now the best alternative source of energy especially for domestic use.
“As a local business, we are to support the government’s initiatives, we are complying but the authorities are not giving us breathing space to effectively do our business,” he said.
In a letter dated February 24, (Zera) acknowledged the progress being made by industry players to comply with the revised LPG wholesale license conditions published in 2022.
The requirement to have branded 48kg LPG cylinders is meant to improve cylinder control, maintenance and safety.
LPG wholesalers are required to maintain accurate inventories of their 48kg cylinders indicating their serial numbers and state of maintenance.
“Further, wholesalers are required to know where their cylinders are from time to time and to have recall arrangements for cylinders that are due for maintenance.
“Finally, the condition that wholesalers have their own branded 48kg LPG cylinders has been extended to be effective on 31 July 2023, after which any wholesaler in default shall have license cancellation and proceedings commenced against them.
“The ban on filling other brand owners’ 48kg cylinders without their permission remains in force,” reads part of the statement.
Meanwhile yesterday the Association wrote a letter to ZERA for a meeting that seeks to iron out the differences between the two.
‘’We, the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association of Zimbabwe, representing more than twenty-five (25) LPG wholesalers in Zimbabwe, do hereby kindly request an urgent meeting with your office. We are deeply concerned by the letters our members have received in relation to the cancellation of licences, hence we request a meeting prior to the hearings. We would greatly appreciate a quick response to your earliest convenience and we look forward to meeting you soon.’’ read the letter signed by Chairman Mr Matsika