In Mutare, backyard filling stations are sprouting in this eastern border city as unemployed locals take advantage of the slumping Mozambican metical against US dollar to smuggle fuel into the country through the porous border.
The development has hit registered fuel stations hard as local motorists who are hit by economic meltdown opt for cheaper fuel being sold in the backyards.
The locals are buying unleaded petrol at a cost of $0.50 a litre in Moz against $1.25 being charged by local filling stations for blended fuel. The Mozambican metical is trading at 75MT to the dollar.
Unemployed youths have seen this as an opportunity to raise income and the backyard fuel stations are charging $0.80 to $1 per litre depending on the quantity a client purchases.
“We are trying to eke out a living because there is no employment in the country. We are taking advantage of our proximity to the border,” said a local fuel dealer.
Bribing border guards
He said they buy fuel at Mozambique’s Manica town, which is 35 km away, and smuggling into Zimbabwe during the night using undesignated entry points.
He said they bribe the cops and soldiers on border patrol.
“We have to bribe them as we cross. They are also trying to survive because life has become difficult for almost everyone in the country,” he said.
Another dealer said he has managed to pay fees for his children from the selling of Mozambique fuel.
“We are overwhelmed by demand; we actually need tankers,” he said.
Local motorists told New Zimbabwe.com that fuel from Mozambique was far much better on efficiency as compared to local blended fuel.
“This is a welcome development because our fuel prices in Zimbabwe are too high. We will continue to buy from smugglers because I am saving.
“Imagine that for $4.50, I can buy five litres of petrol (from the backyard dealers) against $7 at local filling stations,” said a local taxi driver.
However, police have been cracking down on the backyard filling stations.
Last week, a local woman was arrested after she was caught in possession of 320 litres packed in 20-litre containers in her backyard.
Locadia Dzingirai, 39, of Greenside was slapped with a four-months jail term which was wholly suspended on condition that she pays a $200 fine.
The fuel was forfeited to the State.
Source: New Zimbabwe