By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK As of July 1 this year, it will illegal to sell leaded petrol, which is being phased out of the country. The Ministry of Mines and Energy is in the process of gazetting the country’s specifications such as Lead Replacement Petrol, Unleaded petrol and diesel, after which the sale of leaded petrol will be illegal. Namibia started phasing out leaded petrol as of January 1, in line with international requirements that want the world to stop the use of lead in fuel. The phasing out process is going on smoothly, according to Immanuel Nghishon-geele, Deputy Director of Petroleum and Gas in the Ministry of Mines and Energy. He told New Era yesterday service stations have up until June 30 to clear the leaded petrol that they are holding because as from July, leaded petrol would no longer be sold within the boundaries of Namibia. Nghishongeele said the last shipment of leaded petrol that came in the country was in December 2005. “Come July we won’t allow it to be sold in case there are people who want to take advantage of the situation,” he added. The use of unleaded petrol as of last year accounted for 30 percent of total petrol sales in the country, since the fuel was introduced in Namibia in 1997. The ministry has since sent out inspectors to various regions in the country to monitor the process and without a report of these inspectors, Nghishongeele could not say how much leaded petrol the country still holds. Lead is a toxic metal that can cause damage to the kidneys, nervous system, brain, and cardiovascular and reproductive systems. Of great concern are its effects on the nervous system of young children. It has been linked to reduced intelligence, attention deficit disorders, and behavioural difficulties. The phasing out of lead in gasoline will also pave the way for cleaner vehicle technologies, such as catalytic converters, which can reduce harmful emissions from vehicles by over 90 percent. SADC ministers agreed in October 2004 to end the use of lead in petrol in their respective countries, during which time they also agreed to make arrangements to accommodate the concerns that unleaded petrol was associated with. Lead is added to petrol because it is considered an economic way of boosting octane in petrol, thus reducing its production costs. Petrol also needs a certain amount of octane to prevent it from inking or knocking. Even without the use of lead, required grades of octane will be achieved through changing the refining process. South Africa went unleaded on January 1, 2006.
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