FUEL shortages have created room for corruption at Harare service stations, as non-runner vehicles with modified tanks are being pushed to pumps to hoard fuel for resale on the black market, The Herald has established.
A ramshackle Mazda 323, which can best be described as “body on wheels” can be fitted with a 300-litre tank.
Corrupt elements at filling stations accept bribes of up to $40 to allow impatient motorists to jump the queues.
Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) acting chief executive Mr Eddington Mazambani said ZERA and police were investigating the cases.
“I have also received a report implicating a certain service station in Harare in such corrupt practices,” he said.
“For now, I cannot disclose the name of the service station, but we are investigating the case in conjunction with the security agents to flush out such activities.”
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said it was an offence for service stations to abet illegal trade in fuel.
“Our operations department has received such reports and investigations are underway to arrest all those involved in the hoarding of fuel using unroadworthy vehicles,” he said.
(file pic) A fuel attendant fills drums at a service station in Belvedere. There have been cases of fuel being diverted to the black market. — (Picture by Shelton Muchena)
“It is an offence to divert fuel to the black market and we are working with officers from ZERA to bring all the culprits to book.”
The Herald tracked some rickety vehicles that were being pushed from St Mary’s Total Service Station in Chitungwiza to their respective bases where five litres of either diesel or petrol was selling for US$10.
As part of the investigation, our reporter bought diesel from a vendor popularly known as Mupositori at Huruyadzo Shopping Centre.
“I buy the fuel straight from the pump at Total Service Station and it is very safe,” said the bald-headed Mupositori. “Our friends at Total communicate with us whenever they are expecting deliveries and we push the vehicles to the service station.”
When The Herald visited a service station in Glen View, a number of unroadworthy vehicles were at the front of the queue while others were being towed to the fuel pump.
An irate motorist, who chose to remain anonymous, said: “This service station is proving to be the worst in terms of corrupt tendencies and disorder. The corruption is actually fuelling the black market.
“To start with, we see vehicles without engines being pushed to the fuel pump. Some of the cars have large tanks fitted to them and they are always at the front of the queue,” said a source.
There is an old yellow Nissan Pulsar that normally occupies the front of the queue and investigations by our undercover team established that it was fitted with a 200-litre drum.
A popular mechanic in Glen View, identified only as Ray, is known for regularly towing a fuel bowser to the service station, where it is filled up for the illegal market.
At the service station, broken down cars and lorries are always queueing for fuel, which is sold in foreign currency a stone’s throw away.
In Glen View, five litres of fuel (both diesel and petrol) costs between US$7 and US$10.
Yesterday some motorists queueing for petrol at Engen Service Station at the corner of Kaguvi Street and Robert Mugabe Road complained that although they were close to the pump, they were stuck at the same spot because some kombi crews with 200-litre drums were jumping the queue.