Fuel watch groups urged to expose illegal vendors
Livingstone, January 7, ZANIS——–Southern province Minister Daniel Munkombwe has ordered Energy Consumer Watch Groups (CWG) to expose illegal fuel vendors regardless of their standing in society.
Mr Munkombwe said he was aware of some police officers being involved in the illegal activity but urged CWGs not to be deterred by this but report culprits to their supervisors who operate above board.
“Expose culprits of illegal fuel vending even if they are from the police service. Report them to their supervisors because I am confident that no Commissioner of Police is involved in illegal fuel dealing,” he said.
Mr Munkombwe said this in Livingstone today at the official opening of the National Consumer Watch Group Conference organized by the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) held under the theme: “Promoting Community Participation in Energy Regulation”.
He noted that illegal fuel dealing has been going on for so long and as such considered by people to be a normal business activity.
“When anything is overdone even when it is illegal, it becomes normal. We drive along the road and see tankers being siphoned of fuel but we keep quiet…We should fight this scourge,” he said.
Mr Munkombwe however, commended Consumer Watch Groups for their services which at times put their lives at risk and urged the ERB to reward them with appropriate incentives.
He also noted that Consumer Watch Groups were better placed to identify companies that are in the habit of hoarding fuel to create artificial shortages of the commodity and also influence the ERB to facilitate the setting up more fuel stations in areas where they do not exist.
Meanwhile, ERB Executive Director Langiwe Lungu said CWGs were an important tool of the ERB due to role they play in consumer protection.
Ms Lungu said creation of more CWGs was no mere coincidence but a demonstration of the ERB’s commitment to enhancing community participation in energy regulation.
“We have just established four more CWGs in Chinsali, Choma, Kaoma and Mazabuka bringing the total to 14. This is no mere coincidence but a demonstration of the ERB’s commitment to enhancing community participation in energy regulation,” she said.
She said in recognizing the critical role the ERB plays in protecting consumer interests, the regulator had employed hands-on strategies to ensure consumer issues received active attention.
“One of the interactive strategies we have adopted to receive, investigate and facilitate the timely resolution of consumer complaints is the establishment of CWGs as they resolve 80 percent of the complaints handled by ERB,” she said.
Ms Lungu said through their activism, CWGs had proved to be a pressure group and constant reminder to energy companies to provide good services to their customers.
The two-day conference has drawn Consumer Watch Group members from Chingola, Chipata, Kabwe, Kasama, Kitwe, Livingstone, Lusaka, Mansa, Ndola, Solwezi, Chinsali, Choma, Kaoma and Mazabuka.