MOTORISTS with vehicles using E85 fuel were left stranded over the Christmas holidays as most garages in Harare went without the product with the fuel supplier, Green Fuel (Pvt)Ltd, accusing garage owners of failing to pay for earlier deliveries .
E85 petrol is sold at $1,10 per litre compared to other blends which are sold at around $1,50 per litre. A survey by NewsDay yesterday revealed that some garages in Harare had gone for a whole month without E85 while others had not sold the product for more than a week.
“It has been more than a week since we last sold E85. It has not been supplied for reasons we are not aware of,” said a fuel attendant at one of the garages selling the product along Chinhoyi Street in Harare.
Another fuel attendant at a service station along Samora Machel Avenue echoed the same sentiments.
“I would say we have not sold E85 for close to a month. As for the reasons, management would be better placed to explain,” he said.
Meanwhile, motorists were not amused by the shortage.
“It’s a product we gracefully embraced when it came on the market.
I have not had a problem with it since I switched to it two months ago. However, this shortage, coming as it has done during the festive season, has seriously inconvenienced me and my travel arrangements are in jeopardy, mainly because I had budgeted in accordance with its reasonable price,” said Nyasha Chitsinde.
Another motorist, Precious Malinganiso, said: “I hope this is just a passing phase because in my opinion E85 represents the future for this country. If there are any bottlenecks we hope they will be resolved with speed because it is being sold at a price affordable to many.”
However, in a statement to NewsDay, Green Fuel said: “Green Fuel is awaiting orders and payments from the fuel retailers. As soon as these come through, we will be supplying E85 to our approved dealers.”
The blending started with 5% ethanol and 95% unleaded petrol on August 15, following the issuance of an ethanol production (mandatory blending) licence to Green Fuel on August 5. The blending increased to 10% and then 15%.
Government is now pushing for E20 by March 2014 as motorists have launched a Constitutional Court challenge against mandatory fuel blending, arguing the arrangement created a monopoly.