US$11m LP gas depot complete Special Advisor to the President responsible for monitoring and implementation of Government programmes Dr Joram Gumbo (left), Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Harare Metropolitan Province Charles Tavengwa (second from left), Permanent Secretary for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring and Implementation of Government Programmes, Ms Fananai Madambi (third from left) and other delegates tour the LPG storage facility in Ruwa yesterday. - Picture: Joseph Manditswara.

Blessings Chidakwa-Herald Reporter

GAS supplies are now more assured with the operationalisation of the first phase of the US$11 million liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage and handling facility with a holding capacity of 650 tonnes in Ruwa.

State-owned National Oil Infrastructure Company of Zimbabwe (NOIC) undertook the successful project which allows a reasonable amount of gas to be stored, so ending the intermittent stock-outs between deliveries.

LP gas use has been growing, especially for household cooking, owing to its reliability and comparatively low cost. It also works during load shedding and is the replacement fuel of choice for firewood as household income rises.

NOIC is constructing a 2 000 tonne facility for LPG in a phased approach with the next phase of construction of the remaining 1 350 tonnes now at 60 percent completion.

Special Advisor to the President on Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes and Projects, Dr Jorum Gumbo and Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Harare Metropolitan Province Charles Tavengwa toured the facility yesterday.

NOIC chief executive officer Mr Wilfred Matukeni said the total scope of the project is 2 000 tonnes.

“The first phase is complete, we have completed installation of tanks and we have already received LP Gas so we are busy testing for the commissioning of the facility,” he said.

“So far we have divided the project into two phases, the first involves the installation of a storage capacity of 650 tonnes with a full automatic control system which will involve some measurements like weighbridge and carousel for the loading of gas cylinders.”

Mr Matukeni said the second phase will involve the additional installation of 1 350 tonnes to complete the project.

Minister Gumbo applauded the addition to the NOIC facilities in eastern Harare, especially after President Mnangagwa recently commissioned a US$7,3 million ethanol storage and handling facility in Mabvuku.

“Phase 1 of the project has been completed at a total cost of US$10,9 million. Phase 2 is at 60 percent completion and involves the construction of storage tanks with a handling capacity of 1 500 tonnes.

“The availability of clean, cheap and reliable energy is a basic requirement for all Zimbabwean citizens. I say this because energy supply is fundamentally important for industrial and domestic services,” he said.

Minister Gumbo said the country’s energy supply sector has faced challenges in recent times, including inadequate storage facilities for LP Gas.

“I am pleased that the Government has taken strides to address these challenges through various interventions including the implementation of this project,” he said.

Minister Gumbo said over the years, the country has experienced an exponential demand for LPG due to growth in industry and in some instances shortages resulting from inadequate storage space.

“In order to address the perennial shortage of gas, the Government made a deliberate decision to increase national LPG storage space in order to provide buffer stocks and reduce the effects of stock-outs experienced especially during winter,” he said.

Minister Gumbo said although the Government had a significant presence in petroleum storage through NOIC depots, it had no direct ownership and control of LPG storage and handling facilities.

“The facility is therefore meant to give the Government some control in the storage and handling of LP Gas and therefore enhance Government’s regulation of the sector.

“The expectation is that this will reduce the withholding of the product by unscrupulous dealers for speculative purposes,” he said.

Turning to employment creation, Minister Gumbo said he was pleased that the construction of Phase 1 of the project has created job opportunities for the local community as some will be engaged as permanent employees when the project becomes fully operational.

“Indeed, communities should be allowed to actively participate in the projects implemented in their jurisdictions. Specifically, communities should not always be passive beneficiaries of developmental projects,” he said.

Minister Tavengwa said he was pleased that the work has been done by NOIC, a State entity, wholly owned by the Government of Zimbabwe.

“As we all have noted in the Second Republic, under the visionary leadership of His Excellency Dr ED Mnangagwa, substantial progress is being made on using clean energy, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in this case Number 13, that of Climate Action.

“The scale of growth in energy investments, enabling policies by Government and renewable energy capacitation efforts has been notable. The LPG facility will address issues of availability, affordability and accessibility not only in our province but the nation at large,” he said.

Minister Tavengwa said the province recognises that such efforts create employment opportunities for the youths and boost the Provincial Gross Domestic Product in line with the President’s mantra, “nyika inovakwa nevene vayo”.

The project began in 2018 but was initially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic coupled with foreign currency related challenges.

The LPG venture is another multi-million dollar construction project being carried out by Fossil Contracting.

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