Electronic tracking versus fuel adulteration..........


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Sep 24, 2010


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Joined Sep 24, 2010
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By SEBASTIAN MRINDOKO, 4th December 2010 @ 22:00, Total Comments: 0, Hits: 173

ELECTRONIC tracking could be the most effective and relatively less costly safeguard against fuel adulteration and tax evasion, but the regulation and revenue authorities have been resisting the new technology.

Critics have faulted the appointment of a contractor to re-introduce the manual fuel bio-coding last September, saying the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA), and Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), should have adopted electronic tracking.

While fuel marking demands physical application of a chemical in fuel tanks, the electronic system involves fitting of a monitoring device in the tank, which records every movement of the tanker and transmits the records to the owner’s computer or even mobile handset.

According to Mr Reuben Lubanga, Chief Executive Officer of Net Control Company, one of the local distributors of the tracking technology, the electronic device is charged 30 to 100 US dollars monthly in addition to 650 dollars one time cost for the receiver, and unlike fuel marking, it can also check against fuel theft, misuse of vehicles and monitor engine efficiency. Fuel marking costs 60 to 120 dollars for every truck (three US dollars per cubic metre).

The EWURA Director of Petroleum, Mr Cyril Massay, claims that they opted for the bio-coding method because electronic tracking is yet to prove its worth. But a survey by the 'Sunday News' shows that some government ministries, agencies and private companies have adopted the new technology with amazing results.

Ms Blandina Nyoni, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, says they have installed the electronic tracking devices in 40 vehicles and several generators to control fuel consumption and monitor engine efficiency.

“The ministry has more than 150 vehicles and generators used in various departments. We have employed the new technology to curb fuel theft and misuse,” she said.

Ms Nyoni said although the technology was being resisted by some unscrupulous drivers and plant operators, initial reports showed substantial saving.

Statistics on the actual saving are being compiled and the PS believes their success would encourage other ministries and public institutions to adopt the technology.

One of President Jakaya Kikwete’s directives to the new cabinet, which was sworn in last week, is to take practical measures to cut down recurrent expenditure.

The Ministry of East African Cooperation has also adopted the electronic tracking technology to minimise fuel consumption.

“This is one of the many measures we have taken to hold down expenditure in all sections of the ministry,” said the Permanent Secretary, Ms Stergomena Tax Bamwenda.

The Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) and the Institute of Rural Development Planning in Dodoma are among the other government institutions which have adopted the technology.

It is understood that government vehicles used by senior officials are allocated an average of 70,000 litres per week, much of which is misappropriated or used on unauthorised private errands.

The Net Control Company CEO says the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) was one of their first customers for the tracking technology and it helped cut down fuel costs by two thirds from 1.5m to 500,000 US dollars per month.

He said Bakhresa Group and MTN, a telecommunication company operating in Uganda have employed the technology to check fuel theft and monitor engine performance of their trucks and generators.

The International Marketing Manager of Perfect InfoTech, who sold the technology to PCCB, Mr Ebenezer Msuya, says they have since added the Tanzania Cigarette Company to their list of satisfied customers.

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