Contaminated fuel: Six filling stations exposed

Zera chief executive officer, Mr Eddington Mazambani

THE Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has exposed six fuel service stations in Bulawayo for flouting standard operating regulations and duping motorists by selling contaminated fuel and blended fuel claiming it is unleaded.

The errant fuel dealers have been dragged to court and fined different amounts, Zera chief executive officer, Mr Eddington Mazambani, confirmed the development yesterday.

The six companies are; Meizon Amakhosi, Bulawayo, which was fined US$$300 for selling contaminated diesel and Petromoc Exor, which was charged for selling blended fuel as unblended and was fined US$300.

Clean Liquids has also been charged for selling contaminated diesel and fined US$300, the same with Clean Easy which was fined US$400.

Heaven S/St, Bulawayo was fined US$150 for selling contaminated diesel, while Oil Twenty 20 was fined US$400 for selling contaminated fuel.

In written responses to Chronicle questions, Mr Mazambani said the prosecution of the service stations was part of a national compliance initiative.

“The location and allocation of land for service stations is governed by the local authorities concerned. Service stations are required to meet EMA and Fire Departments’ safe storage of fuel requirements,” he said.

“Ultimately, service stations need a Zera license to operate and before they are given the license, they must demonstrate compliance with the following key standards or codes for the petroleum industry.”

For instance, standard regulations require service tanks to have installation of underground tanks, pumps and pipework at service stations and consumer installations.

Mr Mazambani said Zera does not only enforce standards but also conducts awareness training sessions with stakeholders on the standards and best practices to facilitate compliance.

Two of the companies that have recently been prosecuted and whose documents were gleaned by this publication are Boss Petroleum Investment, which was represented by Maryln Mpofu, who pleaded guilty to the charge of operating without a Zera certificate. She appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Ms Nomagugu Maphosa.

The court heard that on October 3 this year Zera, through one of its officers, was checking Zera retail licences at fuel stations.

While checking for compliance at Boss Petroleum Investment, staff at the station failed to produce an operating license. The service station was given one week grace period to get a Zera retail license but failed to get one leading to its prosecution.

In another case, Clean Liquids Service Station, represented by Benjamin Simbarashe Lumeli, was found selling diesel that does not conform to fuel standards.

Lumeli, aged 38 is said to have been at the station on November 7 in Belmont and was found in possession and selling fuel that did not meet required standards.

“The Zera officers advised the accused of their intention to ascertain the fuel in accordance with the prescribed standards,” reads a court document.

“It was also stated that a sample of the fuel was taken from the pump before being tested in a laboratory…the results revealed that the accused’s diesel failed to meet the minimum requirements of on flashpoint as per ZWS751/2017 standards implying that the diesel was contaminated.

“The diesel in question had a flashpoint of 56 degrees Celsius against the prescribed minimum standard expectation of 57 degrees Celsius,” read a court document. The court was further told that the state secured a tank with the liquid as an exhibit.

“A seal was placed approximately 309, 5 litres as shown in the seizure form…”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Energy and Power Development last month adopted the revised ZWS753:2020 (Unleaded Petrol) standard, as the standard for unleaded petrol and all fuel importers were advised that in five months they would be expected to import fuel that meets or exceeds specifications laid out in the revised standard.

In a general notice number 1884 0f 2023, Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) said the revised standard ZWS 753:2020 allows for the importation of cleaner and superior unleaded petrol that is compatible with modern and improved vehicle technologies and eliminates vapour lock problems previously encountered at service stations.

Early this year the Ministry launched a fuel retail service stations grading system that was envisioned to see an improvement in infrastructure and service provision.

The grading system was implemented by Zera as part of its policy to raise consumer awareness to set standards in the fuel retail sector.

In the past Zera has demanded and enforced high standards of infrastructure and product                   quality in the petroleum                                                            sector through compliance enforcement.

In 2022, the authority raised the bar to include customer service standards in service station compliance assessments with a view of encouraging more self-assessment and self-improvement by its licence holders in the conduct of their business.

To this end, they have developed a system of grading and labelling fuel service stations as a way of increasing consumer awareness to standards in the retail sector, and compliance to these standards by fuel retail stations.

The initiative provides the fuelling public with an independent view of technical and customer service standards prevailing at graded fuel retail sites.

The grading system by Zera seeks to help consumers realise the full range of services that fuel stations offer to enhance customer service experience and enhance value for money.

Zera board chair Doctor Dylan Madzikanda said the fuel business was expanding with more initiatives being implemented to grow the sector.

“The fuel business has continued to thrive because of the regulations and measures                                     that we put in place. Zera continues to protect customers in terms of the quality of fuel that they purchase as well as avoiding exploitation by dealers by putting monthly caps on the price of fuel and allowing market competition to take place.”

Chronicle

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