BY KENNETH NYANGANI/KUDAKWASHE TAGWIREI
GOVERNMENT yesterday announced mandatory blending of fuel with ethanol, increasing it from E-10 to E-20, a move which could set it on a collision course with motorists.
This was announced at a post-Cabinet meeting in Harare by Information and Publicity minister Monica Mutsvangwa, who said: “Cabinet has adopted resumption of petrol blending at E10 from April 25, 2022, which has reduced the pump price of petrol by US$0,04 per litre. The blending will go up to E20 by end of May 2022, which will lead to a higher reduction in the price of petrol by US$0,07 per litre.”
Mutsvangwa said this would cushion motorists from the sharp increase in fuel prices caused by the instability caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, resulting in uncertainty in fuel supplies.
“Government has, therefore, increased efforts to improve the strategic fuel reserve, with US$40 million worth of fuel having been procured in the last six months. The intention is to maintain at least a 30-day stock cover, which, at the current consumption levels, translates to 150 million litres. This fuel would be released onto the market to plug supply gaps or to stabilise prices,” she said.
When mandatory blending of fuel with ethanol was introduced in 2011, consumers complained saying it did not last, while others said their vehicle engines were being damaged. It was abandoned on January 7 this year, only to be resumed last month at E10.
Asked to explain whether it was true that ethanol can damage vehicles, Energy minister Zhemu Soda said: “The perception that the blending of fuel will affect the performance of vehicles is not correct. Blending of fuel with ethanol will also create jobs and this is going to be mandatory.”
Meanwhile, the country has been recording increases in COVID-19 infections, with 14 new cases having been recorded at schools, bringing the total number to 66 since the beginning of the second term.
“The overall number of new cases increased during the week, with 910 cases recorded, compared to 361 the previous week. An average of 130 new cases were reported per day, compared to 52 the previous week. A total of 49 new admissions were recorded compared to 42 the previous week, with eight patients admitted to the intensive care unit,” Mutsvangwa said.
“The nation is further being informed that 14 new COVID-19 cases were detected through the school surveillance system. This brings the number of cases recorded since the beginning of the second term on May 3, 2022 to 66. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education continues to provide the requisite facilitation for the on-going COVID-19 vaccination blitz campaign in schools.”
She said recent genomic sequencing test results showed that the circulating variants in Zimbabwe remained Omicron BA.1 and BA.2, and not the more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 that have been reported in South Africa.
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