Some fuel stations in Zimbabwe’s Manicaland province are allegedly tampering with fuel pumps ahead of a government deadline Wednesday to adjust fuel prices as per the falling prices of crude oil on the international market.
Motorists in the provincial capital, Mutare, claimed that some fuel sellers may be altering garage pump meters in a way that reduces the quantity of fuel sold to buyers.
Irate motorists claimed that they are being ripped off as most fuel service stations are selling petrol and diesel far below the normal quantities per litre.
They alleged that a litre of fuel being sold appears to be less than what is displayed on fuel meter readings.
Mutare kombi driver, Irvene Pasi, claimed that he has fallen prey to such activities as he recently bought some fuel, which did not take him to his intended destination.
The driver alleged that he used to buy five litres of fuel to reach his home, but when he bought the same quantity recently at a city garage he was stuck in the woods.
Pasi said, “The petrol that one buys fails to take you where one needs to go as it would be less despite showing the correct quantities and volumes bought. We suspect that these people are tampering with the pumps.”
Another motorist, Tawanda Munemo, who drives a taxi in the city, is convinced that some service stations are cheating local people through tempering service station meters.
Munemo claimed that only a few garages in the city are transparent in selling fuel.
He said, “It is an unfair business practice as we do not get what we would have bought. It is also an inconvenience as well to the travelling public after getting stuck while with passengers on board. They just want to maximise profits.”
Kombi driver, Patrick Zuze, echoed the same sentiments saying he has been stuck with passengers on numerous occasions without knowing the reason until recently when he was tipped off by colleagues of the alleged shady fuel operations at some service stations.
He said, “It is clear now that these people tune the pumps as with a five litre, we normally travel two trips and if it’s less than that we cannot travel the two trips as usual.”
But a petrol attendant at one service station in the city, Total Garage, maintained that their service station is not engaged in such activities.
The attendant, who did not want to be identified by name, said their petrol and diesel pumps are regularly tested and they do not have to tune them up.
"At our garage we do not have such things as our pumps are tested periodically. It is impossible to tamper with the pumps here as we have supervisors. However, we have heard of such issues at other service stations in the city,” he said.
Studio 7 was unable to get a comment from owners of local service stations.
The government last week directed that fuel prices be reduced by tomorrow as the cost of crude oil has crushed on the world market to about 40 dollars per barrel.
The government ordered that petrol price be reduced by at least twenty cents. Currently a litre of petrol on average costs US$1.50.
According to the Florida-based South Florida Sun-Sentinel of the United States, it is possible to tamper with fuel pump seals resulting in the shortchanging of consumers.
At times, the paper said after conducting an investigation, some motorists can even get more fuel than they bargain for if the meters are tampered with or faulty.
Some experts say old-model fuel pumps can be tampered with using simple tools such as screw drivers.