Maputo — Autogas, the Mozambican company responsible for providing natural gas for gas-fired vehicles in Maputo and the neighbouring city of Matola, has promised that the breakdown in the compressor at the filling station in Maputo will shortly be repaired.
The breakdown is serious, because this station is used to refuel the gas-fired buses of the Maputo municipal bus company, TPM.
The only other filling station is near the Mozal aluminium smelter, just outside Matola, and vehicles that do not have enough fuel to reach Mozal are paralysed.
According to the managing director of Autogas, Joao das Neves, the breakdown occurred on Xmas Day. The company is attempting urgently to normalize the situation, and has already imported from Brazil some of the components needed to repair the compressor.
Autogas opted to purchase the components in Brazil because within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region there are no suppliers able to guarantee provision of the components required to repair the breakdown. As for TPM’s plight, Neves recommended that the company deploy its 153 gas-fired vehicles on routes to Matola, so that they can refuel at the Mozal station.
In partnership with the state fuel company Petromoc, Autogas is planning to expand and to set up three new filling stations in early 2013. This will make life much easier or TPM and for the owners of private gas-fired vehicles.
In principle, converting vehicles to run on Mozambican natural gas rather than on imported liquid fuels makes good economic sense, since the gas is much cheaper. But the initial capital cost in converting from petrol to gas, and reliance on just two filling stations are doubtless the main reasons why there are still only 700 gas fired vehicles in Maputo and Matola.