Dealers accuse ERC of harassment

Cooking gas cylinders at Heshima trading center in Nakuru town. [Photo:Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

Importers of cooking gas from Tanzania have accused the energy regulator of harassing them.

In a letter to Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma, the dealers raised several complaints against the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), including illegal detainment of 12 of their trucks with a cumulative 270 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

The commission, in a recent press advert, said its officers and those of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) had impounded the trucks at the Namanga border as they were unlicensed to transport LPG.

“The norm in the recent past for renewal of a transportation licence has been that the commission writes to the supplier and more particularly it has in the past written to Africa Gas and Oil Company Ltd, a company domiciled in Kenya, to load LPG trucks that are awaiting their licences to be renewed,” said the traders in the letter written by their lawyer, Auma Okoth.

During the operation, 13 people were arrested. They were charged with importation and sale of LPG without valid licences issued under the Energy Act 2006. ERC has vowed to intensify countrywide surveillance in the LPG sector to curb malpractices, ranging from importation and sale of LPG that does not meet Kenyan standards to transportation of bulk LPG without a valid licence from ERC.

Huge losses

Other charges were wholesale of bulk LPG without a licence from ERC and operation of storage and filling plants without valid licences.

The regulator is also trying to stamp out filling of LPG cylinders without the authority of the brand owner.

The gas importers said the commissions’ decision to hold their trucks had subjected them to huge losses amounting to Sh100,000 per truck per day.