Relieve for rural, highlands petroleum products consumers

By Liapeng Raliengoane

MASERU – In an effort to ease access to petroleum products to users from the rural and highland areas, Petroleum Fund introduced the concept of Mobile Filling Stations in the country on Wednesday.

Speaking at the introductory event, Petroleum Fund Chief Executive Officer Thato Mohasoa revealed that the Petroleum Fund was established to ensure that there is a security of supply of petroleum products within the country. That it was expected to ensure, among others, that it facilitates the improvement of the distribution and accessibility of those products throughout 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,” Mohasoa highlighted. 

“The 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. One of the recommendations was a roll-out of mobile filling stations in underserviced and remote parts of the country,”

Mohasoa further disclosed that in rolling out the recommended projects, the Fund has in mind a two-pronged objective; that of ensuring the security of supply of petroleum products in the country as well as creating opportunities for investment and jobs for the local people, which will also stimulate the country’s economy.

“Going forward, the Fund will be holding a series of consultative meetings with various other stakeholders, to continue to sell this idea, in order that we can successfully achieve our statutory mandate,” he concluded.  

Petroleum Fund Operations Manager Lebohang Makhoali revealed that the mobile filling stations will improve the reliability of the access to petroleum products by introducing access points in under-serviced areas. He also indicated that those mobile filling stations will not compete with existing traditional filling stations as a set radius will be determined.

“An assumed development time is of 6 months based on the procurement of containerized facilities and land development. The estimated capital expenditure for the sites ranges from M1,2 million to M1,7 million. The capital estimates include the facility’s infrastructure, a fuel management system and a payment system,” added Makhoali.

The identified districts are: Thaba-Tseka, Mokhotlong, Qacha’s Nek, Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek.

Among the issues to be addressed by the mobile filling stations project are increasing local ownership within the sector, improving efficiency in the distribution of petroleum products, assisting in building local capacity and training local entrepreneurs, increasing affordability of petroleum products by creating access to supply and reducing the risk of price gouging and enabling the Fund to actively respond to shortages in under-serviced areas.

Thaba-Tseka, Mokhotlong, Qacha’s Nek, Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek are districts that have been identified by the Fund for the implementation of these mobile filling stations initiatives.