The Sunday News
Tanyaradzwa Rusike, Harare Bureau
THE Government has released US$300 000 for the national roll-out of electronic fuel monitoring devices that will curb malpractices in the petroleum industry.
The new national fuel monitoring and management system, which was developed by Matsimba Technology, will monitor fuel stocks at individual service stations using electronic dipsticks.
This will be done from the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera)’s provincial monitoring centres up to national level.
Data can then be transmitted to the Office of the President and Cabinet in real-time.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira told our Harare Bureau that the released funds will help make the project possible.
“The development of the fuel monitoring system is an initiative of the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education.
“The Ministry of Finance (and Economic Development) has now released US$300 000 to start the project,” said Prof Murwira.
The system, which is being incubated by the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT), is expected to eliminate delinquent practices, including the hoarding of fuel by the commodity’s retailers.
When fully functional, all haulage trucks transporting fuel in the country will be fitted with trackers and volume-measurement technology to enable geo-fencing and monitoring of the vehicles’ movements.
The system will also monitor the volume of fuel in individual trucks at any given time.
Zera acting chief executive officer Engineer Eddington Mazambani said the regulatory authority is presently finalising the tendering process.
The system, he added, is expected to be operational by March next year.
“Zera requested an expression of interest in August 2019 and eight companies have submitted tenders for the project,” said Eng Mazambani.
“We are going to award one company the contract. The system will give an overview of the fuel position in the country, as well as give the regulatory authority an overview of the operators at fuel outlets.
“It will also be able to monitor the balances as well as levels of activity and receipts per site, which we can then match with delivery notes.”
HIT’s Technology Transfer, Licensing and Commercialisation Centre (TTLC) director Engineer Talon Garikayi said a pilot project of the new system has been successfully completed.
Matsimba Technology, which is credited with developing the tap-and-go electronic payment system, has also designed tracking devices for the recently introduced Zupco commuter omnibuses in order to enforce discipline.
“We are putting tracking devices and e-mobilisers in the commuter omnibuses. That means if by any chance you go off route, the commuter omnibus will automatically switch off,” said Eng Garikayi.
Further, a schedule of timetables has been designed.
There are plans to install surveillance systems at major bus termini to protect both passengers and vehicles.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo told our Harare Bureau the new technologies will help guarantee the efficiency of the mass public transport system.
“The tap-and-go system is now available in every bus and kombi. We have infused a monitoring system to ensure efficiency.
“We have also done the same for fuel, we have a monitoring device which automatically calculates the distance to be travelled with every fuel allocation.”
Government’s intervention, through the subsidised transport system, is insulating commuters from the extortionate fares charged by private transport operators.