Maputo, 9 Feb (AIM) - Ten of the 20 filling stations planned for rural areas, under the project named "Geographical Incentive", have now been completed, according to Energy Minister Salvador Namburete.
"Geographical Incentive" is a fund created by the government to support expansion of access to liquid fuels in remote areas.
The building of the filling stations began in 2009, when Mozambican contractors were hired in each of the selected districts. Some of them, however, did not meet the government's conditions, and their contracts had to be scrapped. Interviewed by AIM, Namburete said "In the first phase of building these rural filling stations unfortunately we had problems with some of the contractors because of the poor quality of their work and we had to cancel some of the contracts. But there are at least 10 of them that have been confirmed as being completed and are in perfect operating conditions".
Some of the areas where there were problems with the contractors included the districts of Murrupula, Mossuril and Mogincual, in the northern province of Nampula. "There were problems in Nampula. These were the poor quality of the work, which the inspection team could not accept, and so we had to annul their contracts and start everything afresh", Namburete explained. "This was an initial experience, but the government's commitment to the project remains strong and most contractors are behaving with responsibility".
According to the Minister, the filling stations built in the districts of Chigubo and Massangena, in Gaza province, Funhalouro and Mabote, in Inhambane, and Metangula, Marrupa and Mavago, in Niassa, have been completed and approved.
Namburete said that his ministry is to appraise the operational state of these filling stations before they begin to sell fuel. That has already started in Funhalouro and Mabote.
He said that contracts with the managers for these infrastructures have already been signed.
"All the completed filling stations already have managers, who were selected through public tenders", Namburete said. "The criteria were that the managers must be residents in the respective districts and have experience of management, among other requirements. The contracts have already been signed".
The filling stations have a water supply system and, in areas not yet connected to the national grid, they draw their power supply from solar panels.
Although 10 of the units are not yet completed, the National Energy Fund (FUNAE), the institution that is implementing the project, has already started the second phase to build 21 more such stations.
"Twenty one filling stations will be built this year in the second phase, and we will add the 10 that were not completed in the first phase, totaling 31 units", said Namburete.
He explained that the problem of fuel supply in rural areas is connected to the cost of transporting fuel, because of the long distances, on top of which comes the matter of the quality of the product, and security. Namburete believed that these problems will be minimised with the filling stations built by the government. The project is to build a total of 50 filling stations in various districts across the country.
According to the government's statistics, 43 per cent of the 227 filling stations existing in 2008 were concentrated in Maputo city. Mozambique has 128 districts in its 11 provinces, and the government's target is that all the districts should have at least one filling station by 2012.