ZIMBABWE Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) is looking to regularise the operations of unlicensed liquefied petroleum (LP) gas retailers who operate outside Harare to ensure standards and compliance.
Following the massive power cuts in the country, which last up to 18 hours daily with dire economic and social ramifications, illegal LP gas retailers have been increasing daily as many people are now using the energy source for domestic purposes. Speaking on the sidelines of a journalism workshop organised by Zera this week, the agency’s petroleum infrastructure engineer Andrew Guri said they want to balance the availability of gas to those who cannot access it at proper selling points and encourage safe use of the product.
“We are training them in order for them to have product knowledge and the correct filling procedure. We tell them the minimum requirement that we want them to meet. After that they should talk to propriators of those businesses in order for them to invest in the correct procedures,” Guri said.
“You may be serving a remote community but we don’t want that community to be in danger, that is why we are educating them and encouraging them to comply and then we make a follow-up visit.”
He said his organisation has not been training people across the country in the major centres.
Guri said Zera does not condone unlicensed operations and wants them to regularise.
“We are also encouraging bigger players in the industry to work with small players so that they help them meet compliance requirements. We are condoning them, we do not condone those operations. Those guys must comply like everyone else but we would want to educate them first and we make sure they understand what they are doing so that we licence their operations and they continue to serve the people,” Guri said.
In Harare, Zera is conducting a joint blitz with a multi-agent team that features regulators as well as local authorities, Environmental Management Agency, and police, to issue out compliance orders. Should they fail to comply, they either face prosecution or their operations are shut.
“There are actually a lot of people we are following up, whether prosecuting them or closing them down. It’s only that maybe you have not seen it but in most areas we have actually started, particularly around the (Harare) central business district going outward, so we give compliance orders, follow-up and those who fail to comply we close,” he said.