Source: Editorial Comment: Bring errant service stations to book | The Herald December 18, 2019
THERE are disturbing reports that some service stations in and around Harare are diverting fuel to the black market, disadvantaging ordinary motorists.
The public continues to bite the shortest end of the cherry because of irresponsible service station operators who are diverting fuel to the illegal parallel market where profit margins are significantly higher.
Investigations done by our reporters recently exposed rot which calls for immediate interventions by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) to clampdown on illegal dealings.
Reports that some service station owners and their workers allow unroadworthy vehicles fitted with extraordinarily huge takes to siphon as much fuel as possible make sad reading.
What this clique is doing in the full glare of desperate motorists shows contempt of acceptable processes and brazen disregard of the need to serve consumers.
It is an open secret that fuel supplies in the country have been intermittent since the beginning of the year, resulting in motorists spending nights and long hours in queues.
While some of these vigils have been futile, lucky motorists have managed to drive away with just enough fuel to take them to the next service station. All this has led to serious loss of production and missed opportunities.
We are disheartened by the attitude of some service station owners and workers who are bent on profiteering at the expense of motorists.
This is why we urge ZERA to clampdown on service stations that are diverting fuel to the black market and promoting other hideous activities.
ZERA has previously acted on complaints by consumers to whip errant service stations into line.
These filling stations were demanding cash only, disregarding other payment platforms like swipe and EcoCash.
A few months ago, ZERA shut down service stations in Glendale and Chiweshe for refusing to sell fuel to consumers without hard cash.
The service stations were closed following the discovery that their decision to demand hard cash was in violation of their licensing conditions and pronouncements by monetary authorities that bond notes, mobile money, and all other electronic payment platforms were acceptable.
Notwithstanding the current challenges, service stations should continue selling fuel, instead of playing to the whims of black market cartels that threaten to paralyse some sectors of the economy.
Similar crackdowns should be extended to retailers and other service providers who get their commodities at subsided prices, only to offload them on the black market where they are mostly sold in foreign currency.