By John Chola
Government has clarified it is not shutting down the Ndola based Indeni oil refinery and no worker will be rendered redundant.
Minister of Energy, Peter Chibwe Kapala, says Indeni was not closing but is being put on care and maintenance, a process that should ensure that the plant was in working condition at all times.
In a statement, Thursday, Minister Kapala said as a working and caring government, his administration shall not sit on its laurels but continue to work on means and ways to resuscitate Indeni.
“Following my statement last week that we are putting INDENI on care and maintenance, I have noticed that my announcement has enjoyed a wide currency through misinterpretation and misrepresentation. An impression has been created that INDENI is being closed for good and that jobs will be lost,” Mr Kapala regretted.
The Minister stated that Indeni will be given an opportunity to be an oil marketing company while the state works around the clock to look at the possibility to make it start blending ethanol and petroleum so that the country can have a blend which is much cheaper than the current prices of petroleum.
“Clearly, Indeni has got a future of going into oil marketing as well as utilising the plant as a petroleum blending facility. Let me also repeat that no job at Indeni will be lost. No workers will be laid off. But those who feel that they have had enough with working at Indeni will be given an opportunity to go on voluntary separation. These will then be paid promptly,” assured the Miniater.
He further said no job had been lost at INDENI since he announced placing the plant on care and maintenance.
“Every current INDENI employee is still getting his/her salary despite there being no production happening. There has been no negative adjustments to these salaries which can be attributed to the New Dawn government. Production at INDENI was halted before the August elections and no feedstock has been procured by the government since 2020,” he explained.
Mr Kapala said the New Dawn government lead by President Hakainde Hichilema had begun the process of reforming the petroleum subsector in tandem with the UPND party manifesto which promises restructuring of the fuel supply chain so as to achieve least cost pricing while ensuring stable supply of petroleum products.
“As you may be aware, the sector has been marred with a lot of inefficiencies which have increased the cost of the various petroleum products. The reforms are aimed at ensuring that there is adequate, reliable and affordable supply of petroleum products in the country. The overall objective of the reforms will be to increase security of supply of petroleum products in the country,” Mr Kapala said.
He also affirmed government had begun to look at modalities that will reduce the cost of transporting petroleum products and improve efficiency in delivery petroleum products.
The government, Kapala said, intends to implement under transportation to reconfigure the Pipeline to enable the pumping of Low Sulphur Gasoil (LSG- Diesel) through the TAZAMA Pipelines as one of the reforms.
Equally, products such as Petrol, Jet A1, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), Kerosene and Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) will be transported via road as they will no longer be produced by the Refinery.
He stated that while Indeni Petroleum Refinery will be on care and maintenance, it will have fewer employees working at Indeni while the other employees will be reassigned to manage fuel storage depots with Tazama Petroleum Products Limited.