The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has raided over 2 000 illegal fuel dealers countrywide in the last seven months as part of an ongoing operation to bring sanity in the sector.
Coming at a time when the country is battling a fuel supply gap in the face of foreign currency shortages, illicit fuel deals have been blamed for causing distortions.
Zera acting chief executive officer Eddington Mazambani told our Bulawayo Bureau that their officers, working with the police, were out in full force carrying out spot checks at all service stations.
"We have completed most of our investigations, with some few cases on conclusion stage. We caught 2 140 errant fuel dealers' illegally trading fuel or selling fuel in US dollars without licences to do so," said Mr Muzambani.
"Most of these cases are expected to be taken to court by month end or early next month and all those found guilty will bear the consequences and will be banned for five years."
Mr Muzambani said since March this year, two fuel operators in Bulawayo and another one in Mutare had their licenses revoked.
He said in October last year, Government withdrew licences to service stations belonging to Glow Petroleum and other service stations accused of overcharging fuel.
"All along there were less punitive measures on the illegal dealings of fuel. But with a handful of amendments to the Petroleum Act, more errant fuel dealers found wanting will be punished accordingly. This time we will leave no stone unturned as we are going to name, shame and tame all the illegal fuel dealers in the coming few weeks," he said.
Petrol is priced at ZWL$5,26 per litre and diesel at ZWL$5,07 per litre. This has given fuel dealers an opportunity to make money with some selling in forex, taking advantage of shortage.
Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi is on record saying Government has begun crack down on illegal dealings in the fuel sector, including unilateral price increases and those demanding forex payment.
Zimbabwe consumes on average 35 million litres of fuel a week, with diesel amounting to 21 million litres and petrol 14 million litres.