All imported cooking gas will now be subjected to inspection before it retails in the local market.
The Energy Regulatory Commission said the new rules became effective on November 1, despite protests by some industry players that claimed they were not given ample time to comply.
ERC said the tests were aimed at ensuring Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) imported by dealers was up to Kenyan standards.
This is despite opposition by LPG dealers that claimed a week’s notice that ERC gave them before commencing the tests was not adequate.
The new measures are likely to see an increase in the cost of cooking gas, as traders pass on costs associated with testing for quality to consumers.
Other than the inspection fees that the firms will pay to KEBS, the dealers will also have to incur logistical costs as they move gas using road tankers to the testing facilities in Mombasa and Nairobi.
Thus, importers using Namanga would have to bring their product to Nairobi for inspection.
The marketers, through the Energy Dealers Association, have gone to the High Court seeking a suspension of the notice published on October 27 that indicated that ERC would undertake mandatory tests on cooking gas imports.
“Anybody importing LPG, be it through Mombasa or other entry points, will have to get it tested before it is allowed into the country,” said ERC Director General Pavel Oimeke.
“We have two testing machines at Kebs laboratories in Mombasa and Nairobi and another at the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI). The two stationed at KEBS belong to ERC, while the other one was bought by KIRDI through World Bank support.”
Mr Oimeke said the new rule would assure Kenyan consumers of quality imported LPG.
“We have been having substandard gas coming in especially form Tanzania but with testing, people will be more careful and cannot cut corners.”
ERC said it has not been able to ascertain the extent to which sub-standard gas has been imported to the country due to lack of capacity to ensure importers are sticking to laid rules in the past.
Oimeke said some of the accidents involving LPG had been due to low-quality nature of some of the cooking gas coming into the country. mports from Tanzania through Namanga have been among those that ERC cited as having been of lower quality.
“With the testing, we will be able to see the extent of the problem in terms of substandard gas coming into the country. We are aware of the explosions of gas cylinders that have happened in the past but with testing of all imports, we will be able to stop substandard gas entry into the Kenyan market. Once we do that we will be confident with the quality of gas in the country,” said Oimeke.
He said ERC was seeking a change in the law to make harsher penalties for players engaged in malpractices. The Energy (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) Regulations currently give a general penalty of Sh1 million fine or a one-year jail term for offenders.
The regulator also faces the challenge of illegal refiling of gas cylinders.
This, too, has exposed households to the danger of exploding gas cylinders, some which have been fatal.
ERC has raided a number of illegal refilling plants, confiscated equipment for destruction and said it would intensify the activities.