Coun­cils blamed for il­le­gal gas deal­ers

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Bianca Mlilo

THE Zim­babwe En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity (Zera) says fail­ure by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to avail work­ing space for gas re­tail­ers in the coun­try is to blame for de­lays in for­mal­is­ing the trade.

In the face of a gen­eral elec­tric­ity cost bur­den, a ma­jor­ity of house­holds now pre­fer us­ing gas and other cheaper al­ter­na­tives such as fire­wood and jelly fu­els.

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are re­spon­si­ble for grant­ing per­mis­sion to gas re­tail­ers to trade at their cho­sen spa­ces. How­ever, the en­ergy reg­u­la­tor al­leges that such frame­work does not ex­ist in coun­cils.

Engi­neer Andrew Guri re­spon­si­ble for pe­tro­leum at Zera said their ef­forts to li­cense gas re­tail­ers were pro­gress­ing at a slow pace. As a re­sult, he said, the author­ity had only for­malised about 20 per­cent of the coun­try’s gas re­tail­ers, up from 10 per­cent at the be­gin­ning of the year.

“There has been a slight im­prove­ment although on the slower side. The chal­lenge we have been fac­ing per­tains to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties’ ap­proval,” said Engi­neer Guri.

“Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties do not have the frame­work for grant­ing gas re­tail­ers the per­mis­sion to set up shop and as a re­sult the re­tail­ers set them­selves up any­where.

“For now we have li­censed about 20 per­cent of all the gas re­tail­ers but with land use clear­ance, we could do more.”

He said Zera could only grant li­cences when lo­cal au­thor­i­ties ap­prove the site and the fail­ure by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to ap­prove the cho­sen lo­ca­tions was coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to the author­ity’s ef­forts to for­malise.

Com­ment could not be ob­tained from the Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil.

In May, Engi­neer Guri said there was a pos­i­tive shift to­wards com­pli­ance by whole­salers who im­port gas from South Africa, Mozam­bique and Zam­bia and all gas whole­salers were duly li­censed.

Pro­hib­i­tive li­cens­ing fees also de­ter LPG re­tail­ers from for­mal­is­ing. A re­tailer would have to get li­cences from the Fire Brigade, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Author­ity (EMA) and lastly the Zera li­cence.

An EMA li­cence costs $603,75 per year, while the Fire Brigade li­cence is charged ac­cord­ing to the size of the workspace.

An in­spec­tion by the Fire Brigade costs $15 and the city coun­cil’s charge is hinged on the find­ings of the fire ser­vice. The Zera li­cence, which is the last a re­tailer should se­cure in the reg­is­tra­tion process, costs $50 a year.

Zera this year held a na­tion­wide drive to train gas re­tail­ers dur­ing sem­i­nars in Harare, Bu­l­awayo and Mutare.

The en­ergy reg­u­la­tor is also work­ing closely with the Con­sumer Coun­cil of Zim­babwe to raise con­sumer awareness on LPG and the stan­dards that should be ad­hered to in the han­dling of the gas. — @Bian­caMlilo

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