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By Neo Kolane
The Petroleum Fund in collaboration with the department of energy unveiled the mobile filling stations concept in Lesotho last week in Maseru.
A mobile filling station is a portable container type fuel station which is an alternative to conventional gas stations and can be used for gasoline, diesel and propane.
The aim of the mobile filling stations is to enable access to petroleum products exclusively for remote rural and highland parts of the country.
This is one of Petroleum Funds strategic objectives to create development projects in the petroleum sector to stimulate economic growth and facilitate the participation and empowerment of Basotho entrepreneurs.
The chief executive officer of Petroleum Fund Thato Mohasoa says Petroleum Fund was established to ensure that there is a security of supply of petroleum products in the country.
Mohasoa added that the fund is expected to ensure, among other things, to facilitate for the improvement of the distribution and accessibility of those products in the country.
“It is in this regard that the Fund, as a public institution with a clear mandate within the petroleum sub-sector, aligns itself with the Lesotho Energy Policy (2015-2025) which seeks to provide a strategic direction that the country should follow in the energy sector, noting the pivotal role that energy plays in driving socio-economic development of Lesotho.
“In particular to petroleum products, this policy provides a mandate to address, among other things, issues around importation, storage, distribution, investment and consumption.
“In line with this policy, and pursuant to its statutory mandate and its strategic plan (2020-2025), the Petroleum Fund came to a realization that there was a need to assess the extent of the supply shortages of petroleum products in the country, and also determine the necessary interventions which could address those shortages,” he said.
He indicated that the fund took a country-wide needs assessment exercise which entailed undertaking gap analysis to identify throttles within the entire petroleum sector value chain, assessment of the structural policy and legislative framework and other factors that could be impending on the supply of products in Lesotho.
The operations manager at Petroleum Fund Lebohang Makhoali said an estimated capital expenditure for the sites range from M1.2 to 1.7 million which includes the facility’s infrastructure, a fuel management system and a payment system.
Makhoali mentioned that the mobile filling stations will improve reliability of the access to petroleum products by establishing key access points in underserviced area.
He said it will also improve efficiency in the distribution of petroleum fund and also to increase affordability of petroleum products by creating access to supply and reducing the rise of price gouging and enable the Fund to actively respond to shortages in underservices areas.
“The districts identified for the mobile filling stations are Thaba-Tseka at Katse and Sehonghong, Mokhotlong, Qacha’s Nek at Ha Ramatṧeliso, Mafeteng at Matelile, Tṧakholo and Mohale’s Hoek.
“The evaluation criteria used include financial viability, product demand, environmental impact and the growth potential of the district,” Makhoali explained.