By Bulawayo Correspondent
BULAWAYO has experienced a sudden high demand of vehicle catalytic converters with a single canister fetching as much as US$200.
A catalytic converter is a metal car component whose function is to reduce vehicle emissions. The gadget which is mounted in the exhaust also helps to strip out harmful gases.
Dealers who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com said they sell the powder in the gadgets to drug dealers.
According to Google, a catalytic converter is made from a heat resistant substrate with a large internal honeycombs structure covered in a thin of tiny particles of platinum, palladium and rhodium metals.
The demand for the converters is so high that some enterprising dealers have now resorted to targeting vehicle owners in petrol queues offering them hard cash in exchange of the devices.
“I am the highest paying dealer in town. I pay $US150 for a kilogramme of the powder from motorists. I resell the product to my customers in Harare and Zambia. On a good day, I can source 10 kgs of the product,” said one Lazarus Sibanda.
He refused to reveal how much profit he makes from reselling the converters save to say, “it’s big money my brother”.
Sibanda said he sourced the product mainly from car breakers and individuals who are desperate for cash.
“I normally target motorists at bottle stores and petrol queues. It does not take me more than 20 minutes to remove the metal canister if we have agreed on the price.
“In these hard economic times, a lot of motorists are prepared to part with the gadget because it does not affect the performance of the vehicle,” Sibanda said.
Because of the high demand for the appliance, some garage owners and individuals who repair vehicles are reportedly short-changing their clients by removing the gadget without the knowledge and consent of the car owners.
“I took my vehicle for some repairs at a garage in Kelvin North in January. One of the mechanics secretly removed the catalytic converter without my knowledge.
“I only discovered that it had been removed when I wanted to sell it last week,” said one vehicle owner who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com.
The high demand for the converters in the city is believed to also be contributing to car break-ins as thieves look for the “golden metal”.