HARARE – Although government has ordered the mandatory blending of fuel from five to 10 percent with effect from yesterday, many people don’t seem to understand what benefits this will have to motorists.
Government has not carried out a campaign to educate the motoring public about the benefits of using E10 blend.
Many people remain suspicious government is trying to push ethanol from the Chisambanje plant in which they are the major shareholder.
Myths about ethanol abound. Some people have heard that in Brazil, motorists are given a special filter to safeguard their engines. How the filter safeguards the engine no-one knows.
Some have said that E10 fuel does not last as long as unleaded fuel does.
But no-one can say this for sure.
There are no facts and figures regarding the differences between the two.
There must surely be a difference between the unleaded fuel and E10.
On the other hand, the argument that the use of blended fuel will cut the import bill is plausible.
Zimbabwe is currently spending $40 to 45 million annually on fuel imports.
Any reduction on this bill by 10 percent would be a welcome development.
But if people think that saving only accrues to government while they will carry the bill for ruined engines then the idea will be a hard sell to motorists — even if it’s mandatory.
Currently, the country’s balance of payment has been ballooning.
Latest figures show that the deficit has hit $3,2 billion in the eight months to August 2013.
This means the country imported goods worth $5 billion against exports of only $2 billion.
The figures show the rapid decline of the country’s industries which have been shutting down due to the liquidity crisis and problems of uncompetitiveness and obsolete equipment.
When the country first introduced E5 blend a few years back, most motorists shunned the blend because of the myths mentioned above and despite the marginal difference in cost, people chose the more expensive unleaded fuel.
Government should not wait to issue directives from offices without engaging and educating the people who will use the blend.
Much as we think the use of blended fuel would save the country a sizable income at about $4 million a month, officials should mount a spirited campaign to explain the benefits of using blend fuel.
Many people, including those who may be said to be educated, do not understand the meaning of balance of payment and how the billions mentioned affect the ordinary persons.
This coming after government recently announced it was to buy fuel guzzlers would seem confusing to anyone.