Wednesday February 21 2018

Could LP gas price wars disadvantage consumers?

Quality. Consumers have been advised to start

Quality. Consumers have been advised to start weighing their cylinders when purchasing gas from the distributors to avoid being cheated. PHOTO BY STEPHEN OTAGE 

By Stephen Otage

KAMPALA. The ministry of Energy has advised consumers of liquefied petroleum gas to begin weighing their cylinders when purchasing gas from the distributors.
The advice follows an outcry from the dealers’ association, which is accusing new entrants into the market of selling under filled and unlabelled cylinders to the unsuspecting public and selling it cheaply.
In a recent interview, Rev Frank Nkwasibwe, the commissioner in charge of Petroleum, said all companies dealing in LP gas, are required to brand and label their cylinders so that such complaints can be traced and investigated to understand the cause.

“We emphasise to all refilling companies to do pressure tests on the cylinders before refilling to ensure that the cylinder is strong enough to resist the pressure,” he said adding that government agencies such as the National Bureau of Standards, have to ensure that the weighing equipment of all licensed companies is calibrated and certified.
“I do not know whether Ugandans know the weight of their empty cylinders and their weight when filled with gas so that when you are buying 13kgs of gas, it is the actual weight of the gas they purchased,” he said.

According to Mr Emmy Wasirwa, the president LP gas association, they suspect that the new entrants into the market are buying their products from the black market, which only thrives on under filling cylinders.
“You cannot buy a metric tonne of gas at $1,000 from Mombasa and sell it in Kampala at $600. It means either you are under filling the cylinders or you are buying from a black market,” he said.

Asked to mention who some of the dealers are, he cited Energy Africa Manufacturing Limited, a company based in Tirupati Industrial Park in Kyebando.
But when contacted, Mr Johnny Barenze, the company lawyer, attributed the complaint to competition from one of their former partners he refused to name, who he said is too ‘scared’ to see them enter the market.
“Are you saying we have done bad to bring cheaper gas? If I were you, I would even be happier that there is now cheaper gas and the prices will even drop further when we construct our filling plant,” he said.
When asked about the company in question, Rev Nkwasibwe confirmed knowledge about it saying despite the complaints against it, it is helping the ministry to re-organise the LP gas market to enable Ugandans begin consuming cheaper gas.