Rautenbach Pressed to Use Rail for Ethanol Shipments

Now Daily

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Fuel tycoon Billy Rautenbach’s Green Fuel is under pressure to use the railway for shipping ethanol used in fuel blending following a horrific accident in 2013 in which 24 people perished.

A Zera report on the incident seen by Now Daily blamed Rautenbach’s firm for poor inspections of ‘dome covers, seals and electricals’ on the killer tanker.

“After the accident, Zera’s petroleum engineers investigated the cause of the accident focussing on tanker manufacture standards, maintenance, loading and inspection procedures. Zera recommended that there was need to improve inspections of dome covers, seals and all electricals on the tankers. Zera also recommends the use of the railway for transporting ethanol instead of road tankers,” the Zera report said.

The accident occurred in Chisumbanje along the Ngundu-Tanganda road. It involved a Green Fuel road tanker carrying 40 000 litres of ethanol and a Mazda T35 truck with civilians.

According to a police report, the truck and the tanker collided head on resulting in 24 people being killed while six were seriously injured.

“Green Fuel stated that the fire started from the horse after its diesel tank ruptured from the collision, leading to the diesel being in contact with the exhaust and turbocharger,” Zera said.

In partnership with the state firm Arda, Rautenbach’s Macdom Investments set up the $600 million Chisumbanje ethanol plant in Manicaland in 2009, trading as Greenfuel. The firm has recently gained business after government raised ethanol blending levels to 25 per cent to cut the bloated state fuel import bill. Logistical and production problems, coupled with a raging land dispute over proposed expansion areas, have continued to dog what Rautenbach, a motoring tycoon, has optimistically described as the future of the environmentally friendly fuel industry.

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