- Traders take advantage of window before enforcement of new laws start, as illegal gas refilling dens flourish.
Illegal Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) dealers have re-emerged in the wake of the tightening of regulations meant to tame the dangerous trade that continues to endanger the lives of millions of consumers.
Cartels that illegally import cooking gas through porous border points have taken advantage of the transition period before the new, stringent rules are enforced, to set up illegal refilling dens in various parts of the city, including in residential areas, to make a killing.
Mainstream LPG dealers have decried the loss of thousands of cooking gas cylinders in the past one month, which are stolen while in transit or simply collected from circulation to deny genuine dealers millions in revenues.
After smuggling the cooking gas, which largely falls below local quality standards, the illegal dealers skew the market by offering attractive rates, thereby attracting unsuspecting consumers.
Last week, a supermarket in Kawangware was found selling hundreds of rebranded cylinders belonging to various oil marketing companies in a raid that saw the owner of the store arrested and later released.
Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority Director General Pavel Oimeke, who has been blaming weaker regulations for the existence of LPG cartels, did not respond to our queries despite promising to do so through his communication team.
The new Petroleum (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) Regulations 2019 require LPG retailers to obtain multiple approvals to be able to stock different brands after the mandatory exchange pool which allowed for cross-filling of competitors’ cylinders was stopped.
EPRA has been warning dealers against stocking cylinder brands without licences and written consents from each brand owner and maintains that supermarkets, shops wholesalers and transporters will now be subjected to strict compliance requirements to tame the illegal practice that has exposed consumers to poor quality and risky cylinders in the past.
“Following increased public safety concerns on the use, distribution, retail and transportation of LPG cylinders, all retailers, wholesalers and transporters shall henceforth not undertake the business of handling cylinders of another brand owner without prior written consent from the brand owner and licence from the Authority for each business location and specific to the authorised cylinders only,” EPRA wrote in several public notices last month.