from WELLINGTON TONI in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – AN automated fuel monitoring system by a local technology company is touted as the solution to curb the hoarding and diversion of fuel into the black market in Zimbabwe.
Matsimba Technologies, owned by the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT), is developing the solution that government has endorsed.
Dr Engineer Talon Garikayi, the lead project coordinator of the innovation at HIT, said the system had the ability to ascertain volumes of underground fuel tanks in real time, generation of real-time reports on fuel tank levels and monitor the fuel levels from any point in the world.
“We can also closely monitor the fuel dispensing behaviour of the staff remotely and avoid fuel hoarding by attendants,” he said.
The history of fuel loading into the underground tanks, instant receipts offered to delivery trucks and monitor bulk fueling above set limits are also some of the benefits of the system.
The system was initially developed and tested at Central Mechanical and Equipment Department (CMED) fuel service station in Harare.
“The results were satisfactory and the second phase involved connecting several service stations on the platform,” Garikayi said in an interview.
The Matsimba Fuel System consists of Magnetostrictive Probe which is inserted inside the fuel tank. It also has a Smart Human Machine Interface (HMI) Console, an electronic device, whose basic function is to monitor the fuel level in the tank.
The HMI also shows the operator the contents inside the tank.
“In other words, it gives us very important information like fuel level, volume and temperature, water level and volume, high and low fuel warnings,” Garikayi explained.
The system can also monitor up to ten tanks and the delivery conditions.
It features a 7-inch colored touch screen console panel. Each interface displays four graphics.
The system also has an embedded printer in it to print inventory reports, delivery reports, leak reports and shift reports.
It has a record function, all information is stored in memory for future queries.
After connected with Matsimba HMI Console through internet, it can provide information in long distance for any manager to arrange inventory.
Matsimba Technologies will soon be embarking on a fleet surveillance programme for all vehicles under the Public Service Commission (PSC), a programme approved by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to curb abuse of government vehicles and fuel.
There is some defiance to the system.
“There is obviously passive resistance since no one wants to have their fuel issues monitored. Nonetheless, without this system the black market continues to thrive and has adverse effects,” Garikayi said.
Zimbabwe is currently facing an acute shortage of fuel that has affected industry and the general workforce.
A litre of petrol trades at ZWL$18,80 while diesel is pegged at ZWL$19,55.
There are service stations, however, that are licensed to sell in the United States dollar, with prices ranging between US$1,15 and US$1,20 in the capital Harare and US$1,25 in the second largest city of Bulawayo.
However most of the fuel ends up in the black market with fuel attendants and service station owners selling a 5 litre gallon at R100 (US$6,27) in Bulawayo and US$6-US$7 in Harare.
– CAJ News