By Africa Moyo
The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) yesterday shut down a Maps Fuel service station on allegations of conducting business outside its licence conditions.
The service station was reportedly refusing to sell fuel to consumers without hard cash.
This resulted in a serious commotion at the fuel station, with potential consumers complaining bitterly over the conduct.
It is understood that some potential customers called Zera raising concern over the operations of Maps Fuel, which they thought were against pronouncements of monetary authorities that bond notes, mobile money, electronic payments and bond notes were acceptable as modes of payment.
In a statement yesterday, Zera acting chief executive officer Mr Eddington Mazambani confirmed the closure of Maps Fuel.
“The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) would like to inform the public and stakeholders that it has closed Maps Fuel station in Mufakose, Harare, today (yesterday) pending investigations into possible breach of license conditions.
“The development was prompted by complaints received from consumers to the effect that Maps Fuel site was restricting sales to customers with cash only.
“It is a licence condition that all forms of payments should be accepted from customers at all retail sites,” he said.
A number of service stations have been previously closed for rejecting forms of payment, other than cash.
Ruyamuro service stations in Glendale, Harare and Nzvimbo Growth Point in Chiweshe were shut down in August for rejecting alternative payment methods.
Engen at the corner of Harare Street and Robert Mugabe Road was also closed in August for the same reason.
Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi said Government, through Zera, was in the process of revoking licences for filling stations breaching the law.
This follows several warnings a few months ago.
Minister Chasi said stern measures being taken against irresponsible filling station operators were appropriate in the circumstances, to bring sanity in the fuel sector.
“This cannot go on and one hopes that other operators will learn something from the action that has been taken and is being taken,” he said.
“Now if you have one licence and you operate five service stations and you are caught at one you are still the miscreant, you are the same person, even if you are running other sites and those in this business need to take heed so that they will not say we never told them.
“Government gave a warning months ago that the misbehaviour that we are seeing needs to come to an end. This is the beginning.
“The public has been and continues to be at the receiving end of irresponsible service station operators. This really has got to come to an end,” he said.
Minister Chasi said all along, Government has been engaging the fuel industry to desist from “unbecoming behaviour”.
Some service stations are in the habit of selling fuel only to people they know, who in turn give the fuel attendants kick-backs.