By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Following a recent law enacted by the Government to phase out leaded petrol due to its adverse effect on the environment, a local company intends establishing a depot for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The firm, Autogas, yesterday announced plans to set up a depot for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Windhoek. Autogas, fully Namibian-owned and which has been in operation for the past four years in partnership with South African company Easigas, which is a wing of an international company Shell LPG, yesterday announced the initiative. Antonio Mendonca, the Managing Director of Autogas, during the ground-breaking ceremony of the approximately N$5 million depot to be constructed, informed the gathering that Namibia produces no petrol or diesel and as such, the construction of this depot would not only supplement the existing fuel supplies, but would also help to enhance the distribution of this resource to other parts of the country, where Autogas intends spreading its wings. Currently, the company is based in three towns, namely, Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Mariental. According to the Operations Director of Autogas, Tom Mukaiwa, once the depot is fully operational hopefully in the next four to five months, the idea is to have a gas pump at every service station across the country. So far, 86 vehicles have been converted to the environmental friendly resource. The company is still in the pilot phase but the operations director said the intention is to have at least two-thirds of the government fleet converted. He revealed that the company has earmarked about 800 cars for conversion at the National Planning Commission (NPC). The use of Autogas as an alternative fuel source has been experimented with by a number of companies and other government agencies, said the Deputy Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Stefanus Mogotsi. He says the conversion of the duel fuel system offers the flexibility of being able to use two types of fuel. The use of Autogas does not hinder the car operator from switching to the usage of other fuel kinds. As the cost of fuel is steadily going up and in the process affecting the cost of products and the service user, Autogas lowers fuel costs to 50 per cent. Medonca added that no engine modifications are required. Further, the gas extends engine life due to less oil contamination and carbon build-up. Among other benefits, Autogas results in less engine noise and vibration as less emission helps in combating air pollution. Managing Director of Easigas Shepherd Shonhiwa indicated that the perception has been that LPG explodes. However, today, with the use of high quality technology this is never the case. Having existed in Namibia as Shell until the year 2000, he says the company decided to re-enter the Namibian markets two years ago given its fast growing economy. Fuel is an important input in the Namibian economic system creating forces as inflation and rising prices. During the first phase of this project Shonhiwa assured that about 270 cubic meter tanks would be coming from Johannesburg by rail once construction of the depot is completed. Given that there are about 4 000 Shell cylinders still in the country, these cylinders would also be filled with Autogas, he added. The depot will act as the main storage and distribution centre for LPG and other gas products.
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