Zera probes fuel operators

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The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) is to investigate fuel operators that are refusing to accept plastic money from motorists, boss Gloria Magombo told Parliament on Monday.

BY VENERANDA LANGA\ TATIRA ZWINOIRA

Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy, Magombo said: “We are currently investigating the issue why service stations are not accepting coins or swipe machines and have written to fuel companies about the issue and they responded to Zera saying they accept EcoCash payments and plastic money.

“If there are specific service stations that are not accepting plastic money or swipe machines, this should be brought to our attention so that, together with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, we follow up and take necessary action.”

Magombo said Zera had all along been deploying undercover staff to check on fuel stations and expose those refusing coins and plastic money.

Zimbabwe imports over 35 million litres of diesel and over 70 million litres of petrol per month.

The probe comes as some service stations are offering cash discounts of at least six cents to motorists, who use cash, while those who use cards to pay higher fuel prices.

Fuel prices were recently hiked to an average of $1,35 and $1,20 for petrol and diesel, respectively.

A source at Trek Petroleum told NewsDay yesterday the reason behind offering cash discounts was due to delays in processing card-based transactions.

Their aim was to incentivise clients to pay cash for the company to deposit the money into fuel exporters’ accounts to offset any potential delays in foreign payments, he said.

Trek Petroleum is selling petrol and diesel at a six cents discount for $1,28 and $1,12, respectively, if paid for in cash, while prices when using a card are $1,34 and $1,18.

Insiders say Trek Petroleum import fuels from their holding company and are not a franchise, unlike competitors, which is why they could offer such an incentive.

Efforts to get comment from Trek general manager, Onias Sanangura were unsuccessful, as he had not responded to inquiries from NewsDay.

NewsDay heard that some Engen fuel stations were also offering cash discounts.

One motorist, who bought fuel at an Engen service station in Harare, said he tendered a $50 note to buy petrol worth $45, and the attendants told him if he was to buy fuel worth $50, they would offer three litres extra free of charge.

However, Engen spokesperson, Aleck Majuru denied that they were offering any such cash discounts.

Central bank chief, John Mangudya said the offering of discounts on cash transactions was counterproductive.

“They need to know that they are not an exporter and as such, can’t and should not abuse consumers. The funds that they are using to secure their imports come from exporters,” he said.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Kensington total no longer accept plastic money to pay for fuel. They just claim the machine are not working without even trying them

  2. ZERA should give us hotlines to report not just talking with no commitment to act. most service stations are refusing both plastic money and Rands.

  3. 8 hours is enough time to find out which stations are not accepting cards, coins and cards – the ZERA people are either reluctant to act or have no “teeth” to effect anything. Just close those stations down until they undertake to comply unconditionally.

  4. There s no crime committed by those service stations.

    There is nothing at law which makes it compulsory for services to be paid in cash or otherwise.

    Those who attempt to enforce a control are obviously trying to prop up a failed government.

  5. Total Service Station in Ascot, Byo was refusing plastic money this very weekend. Zuva Marimba says they only accept up to $30.

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