Mr Jackson Abol refilled his car from a fuel station in Bweyogerere, a Kampala suburb. But by the time he got to the city, his fuel gauge was showing ‘empty’.
This was a different occurrence compared to when he takes fuel from other stations around town.
Many fuel stations in the suburbs of Kampala are sometimes unregulated, thereby ripping consumers of their money through offering adulterated services. However, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has tried to curb the vice by using a fuel marking system as well as mobile laboratories that monitor all players, although they have not built enough capacity to completely rid the industry of the vice.
Rev Frank Tukwasibwe, the commissioner of petroleum in the Energy ministry, told a stakeholders engagement meeting held at Hotel Africana last week that fuel adulteration was still rampant on the market.
His views were shared by UNBS supervisor fuel monitoring programme, Mr Peter Kitimbo, who said fuel adulteration is still a major challenge in the country.
Mr Kitimbo said whereas the level of adulterated fuel on the market has decreased from 1.3 per cent in January to 0.6 per cent in June, a period of seven months, there was still a major challenge especially when it comes to monitoring fuel stations across the country.
He said the fuel marking programme which covers about 74 per cent of the country on average per month is affected by the limited human resource to reach the whole country. The marking exercise is also affected by the proliferation of new districts in the country which are not monitored.
Mr Kitimbo explained that the high adulteration level was mainly because of the non-compliance by distributors during the election period.
“During the election period, there was no compliance from the eastern and south western pasts of the country because people assumed there was no government,” he says.
Mr Kitimbo attributed the growth of the adulteration to the proliferation of new districts where dealers quickly set up fuel stations without going through the proper process of acquiring licences. “These dealers build fuel stations without any proper inspection which leads to fuel adulteration by contamination if not well constructed,” he observed.
In an interview with Daily Monitor, Mr Jackson Kilimani, the Vivo Energy quality manager, said fuel can be contaminated in various ways. Vivo Energy are distributors of Shell products.
“Contamination can be accidental by addition of liquids and solid substances such as soil and water,” Mr Kilimani explained.
According to Mr Ben Manyindo, the executive director UNBS, the level of adulteration has greatly reduced and most of the fuel distributors are compliant with the rules and regulations as set by the standards body. He said Uganda currently has 2,183 fuel stations as of June 2016.
It is a legal requirement that all importers of petroleum products are licenced by the Ministry of Energy and adhere to fuel marking programme.
The fuel marking and quality monitoring programme was introduced in Uganda in 1999 by the Ministry of Energy in collaboration with fuel marketing companies and Uganda UNBS.
“These dealers build fuel stations without any proper inspection which leads to fuel adulteration by contamination if not well constructed,” Peter Kitimbo, supervisor fuel monitoring programme at UNBS.