Govt targets errant gas retailers

By Staff reporter | 26 Apr 2020 at 18:39hrs
THE Government will soon draft a policy framework to regulate the sale of LP Gas, as it moves to stop rampant profiteering and unethical practices in the sector.

Demand for LP Gas has shot up over the past year as the country experienced rolling power cuts, with some viewing it as a viable alternative to electricity especially for household necessities like cooking. The demand for LP Gas soared prior to the national lockdown that began four weeks ago, with long snaking queues outside the premises of most retailers.

During the lockdown, however, some backdoor retailers have used the lockdown to inflate the price of the much sought-after product. Prior to the lockdown, retailers in Bulawayo's Emakhandeni and Nkulumane suburbs were selling LP Gas for R25 per kilogramme, but when Sunday News enquired yesterday, the price had gone up to R40.

The retailers who spoke to Sunday News anonymously said they had raised the prices because LP Gas was an imported product which was in high demand. Reports from Harare indicated that the same situation is prevailing, with retailers also selling gas from their homes, which is a potential hazard for both themselves and their neighbours.

Ideally, LP gas resellers should operate in a Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) certified gas station. The station should be 2,5 metres x 2,4 metres square shaped structure made of iron bars, covered by chrome deck sheets and situated at an open-air space for precaution.

Speaking after a Cabinet meeting last week, Minister of Energy and Power Development Advocate Fortune Chasi said the Government was concerned about the spirit of profiteering that seemed to be driving LP gas retailers.

"The area of gas is a matter of serious concern for us. The spirit of profiteering which is now endemic in the country is a matter of concern. Some players in this sector seek to take advantage of the power situation. They know that some members of the public may not afford the power or it might not be available at certain times and so the pricing has been informed by the spirit of profiteering," he said.

Adv Chasi said the ministry had noticed that some retailers were now mixing their gas with other unknown chemical agents, which posed a significant danger to their consumers. He said the Government would be announcing a regulatory framework soon.

"We are currently engaged in discussions with stakeholders and coming up with relevant policy and regulatory framework to deal with a variety of matters including standardisation of equipment and the standardisation of the gas itself. There are many things that are happening there where you have people taking this and that and mixing it and selling it to the public. So, we have a lot of matters that we are addressing," he said.



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