Wednesday June 25 2014

Corrupt retailers to blame for fuel contamination - regulator

L-R: A client, Mr Denis Mutyaba, receives free

L-R: A client, Mr Denis Mutyaba, receives free fuel card for one year from the Vivo Energy managing director, Mr Hans Paulsen, as retail manager Edward Walugembe and ministry of Energy head of Petroleum Quality Assurance Spero Byokunda look on at the launch of a countrywide promotion. Fifty clients will receive fuel worth Shs1.2 million. PHOTO BY STEPHEN WANDERA 



Apart from causing inconvenience, contaminated fuel is likely to leave your vehicle damaged, especially the engine.
And the people responsible for the damage, according to the industry regulator, are the unscrupulous retailers who adulterate fuel so as to make quick and abnormal profits without due regards for consumer and environmental safety.
“Retail outlets are the major culprits as far as adulteration is concerned,” the head of Petroleum Quality Assurance at the ministry of Energy, Mr Spero Byokunda, said in an interview after launching the Shell Fuel Save promotion, on Monday.
While launching the promotion that will see Shell customers win free fuel for a year, Mr Byokunda said his department is working hard to ensure fair competition, guarantee enough supply of fuel products in the market and see to it that consumers and the environment are protected from the unethical tendencies within the industry.

Need for punitive action
Vivo Energy managing director Hans Paulsen noted that adulteration of fuel is still a huge problem that needs punitive action to deter the industry players involved in the vice.
“Over 15 per cent of industry players adulterate fuel, just check the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) statistics,” Mr Paulsen said.
He continued: “A punitive levy will reduce adulteration, that is why we welcome the levy on kerosene (a product that is mostly adulterated with other products like diesel).”

Adulterated fuel can, among others, lead to mal-functioning of the engine, failure of components, increased tailpipe emissions of hydrocarbons and cause health problems directly in the form of increased tailpipe emissions of harmful and sometimes carcinogenic pollutants.

adulteration on the downward trend

A UNBS report on fuel adulteration indicates that several retail outlets have been found with adulterated fuel, especially in the western region.
Even with challenges of adulteration, UNBS says at least 80 per cent of the overall retail network (of about 1,170 stations) is within the marking radar (checking for quality).
According to Mr Byokunda, though adulteration of fuel is still an issue, statistics show the situation is under control. “Adulteration has now reduced to 3 per cent from 29 per cent in 2009. This has been mainly because of our fuel marking programme that we run jointly with UNBS. Should we see a rise in the curve again, we will name and shame those involved,” he said.
Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde, in an interview yesterday, said adulteration of fuel in the city has reduced by 2 per cent while it has gone down by 11 per cent in the up-country areas.