Most of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) consumers in the country are likely to be purchasing half-filled cylinders due to illegal gas refilling by dishonest traders.
Government regulatory authorities and some dealers say that the problem is rampant in some areas in the country and that they are doing everything in their capacity to resolve it. As a result, such acts have since prompted the government of Kenya to ban the importation of gas from Tanzania through land routes.
On Monday, Kenya’s Ministry of Energy banned imports of cooking gas through the common border – on land only – for now. Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau said traders would not be allowed to import gas via land borders.
The move, according to Kamau, is meant to eliminate illegal cooking gas filling plants, which have popped up in various parts of the country, posing safety and security risks. A gas who spoke off record, who also supplies gas to Kenya, said some dishonest traders had established illegal gas refilling stations along highways, too.
Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) Director General, Felix Ngalamgosi, says his office is aware of the problem and that it is dealing with it accordingly. He admitted that some dishonest traders were illegally refilling gas cylinders.
According to Ngalamgosi, the practice poses safety and security risks and that it is against the Petroleum Act, 2015, which forbids gas filling without the approval of EWURA and other regulatory bodies. He said EWURA had been conducting inspections in various areas within the country from time to time to ensure there’s no illegal refilling or any practices contravening the law of the land.
The EWURA boss said illegal gas “dealers” take the cylinders, fill them and return them into the market, adding that his office had since identified what it calls a “big filling station in Dar es Salaam”. “We are doing everything in our power to curb the situation, but we will only succeed if “wananchi” support us in this war,” he said.
Ngalamgosi asked the public to report anything related to the illegal gas refilling or any kind of criminality that involve gas business to EWURA or police so that immediate measures could be taken to curb the situation.
“I would like to call upon the public to support EWURA get to the bottom of this problem, illegal gas refilling is very dangerous … it can cause fires or any other hazards because the exercise takes place in unauthorised areas and without following safety measures,” he said.
He added that illegal refilling means disaster, especially so when the filling station running this dangerous business sits in the middle of residential areas. He asked the public to report any movements that involve trucks that carry gas cylinders for offloading in such stations. He said such illegal business denies the government millions of shillings in revenue.
Oryx gas Tanzania Marketing Manager, Mohamed Mohamed said the banning of gas exportation to Kenya by Kenyan authority would in one way or another affect businesses. He said, however, that the Kenyan government measure must serve as a waking call to Tanzania authorities to find a lasting solution to illegal gas refilling in the country. He said some traders have been illegally refilling cylinders to make more profit.
He said the Kenyan government has decided to take action for interests of its people. “LPG is highly flammable and just a small leak or contact with a spark can cause an explosion, it’s very dangerous for the people and thus Kenyan government is trying to save its people from problems,” he said.
“To make their business look legitimate, the gas is repackaged into branded cylinders to leverage off trusted brands before finding its way into the market through the backdoor.”
He quoted the recent incident in which Ewura discovered an illegal filling station in Dar es Salaam; they found various cylinders with brands including Oryx gas.
“So these people are killing our business, they use our brand to sell half-filled cylinders, this is unfair and unacceptable, therefore, we are asking the government to push more and make sure this bad practice is completely bunged,” said Mohamed.^ (Allafrica.com)