By Shami Makombe
CHIMANIMANI – Disaster struck at Kopa shopping centre in Chimanimani yesterday when a fuel dealer’s petrol containers explored and burnt down several shops and property.
Police have yet to confirm the incident, but eyewitnesses told HourlyHits that property worth hundreds of thousands of dollars was burnt to ashes when the petrol caught fire.
Fire and combustion experts say where petrol is to be stored, it must be in the following containers:
- plastic containers storing up to 10 litres
- metal containers storing up to 20 litres
- demountable fuel tank up to 30 litres.
Dr Burlington Ziwaya, a chemical and fuels expert, told HourlyHits that the risk of storing large amounts of fuel in unsafe conditions far outweighed any benefits of taking such action.
“If you do decide to store a container of fuel at home, for safety reasons we recommend you store only small quantities and make sure that you are using a purpose built, approved fuel storage container,” said Dr Ziwaya.
“If you choose to hold more than 30 litres, be aware there are additional legal requirements that you must meet as prescribed by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA).”
He added: “Worryingly, we’ve seen a people trying to fill fuel into containers such as soft drink bottles, and this happens with the collusion of personnel at registered fuel stations who take bribe in return.
“The law is clear that only standard jerry cans can be used for such purposes. Besides, using an unapproved fuel container is not only illegal, it’s highly dangerous and can put your entire household at risk.
“And given it’s an illegal activity, should something happen, you may not be covered by your insurance provider.
“Fuel products such as petrol are highly flammable – if not stored and handled properly, these sorts of substances can seriously endanger people, property and the environment.
“Zimbabweans must not putting themselves or their families in a risky position, and in this instance, the risks are simply not worth it.”