Malaba fuel clearance delays resolved, govt says 

Fuel transporters had threatened to strike last week over delays in clearing trucks at Malaba border point. Photo / File 

What you need to know:

  • The delay had been caused by an operation against some people who, it is claimed, were trying to bypass the fuel marking system 

The Ministry of Energy has said delays experienced in clearing fuel transporters and truck drivers at Malaba and Busia border points last week resulted from an operation to weed out collusion by some people who were attempting to bypass the system.  

Speaking in a telephone interview at the weekend, Mr Solomon Muyita, the Ministry of Energy spokesperson, said the delays had already been resolved, noting that the company, which is contracted to mark fuel, had moved quickly to avoid an escalation.  

“We just had a temporary issue at the border arising out of some individuals trying to bypass the system with clearing agents. The company [contracted to mark fuel] had to quickly resolve this matter and this was resolved within a day,” he said, noting that it had caused a bit of a temporary crisis but everything had returned to normal by press time.

However, Mr Muyita did not give details of the operation. SICPA Uganda is contracted to check and mark fuel before it is cleared onto the market. 

Earlier, reports from the marking yard in Busia had indicated that government was taking proactive steps to combat collusion and ensure that all fuel entering the country is properly checked and marked. 

Reports also indicated that the suspected collusion had prompted government and marking partners to implement new security measures after identifying loopholes. 

However, Monitor could not readily get more details by press times.   

Fuel marking, which grades fuel products with a specific dye, is provided for under the law for fuel imports to help Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) access appropriate taxes. 

It also seeks to curb smuggling and fuel dumping, which, for a long time, had been key revenue leakages.   

Mr Muyita also indicated that whereas fuel imports had risen, returning to pre-Covid-19 levels, the supply chain had improved greatly to deal with any short coming. 

On average, he indicated, SICPA Uganda marks about 120 trucks through Malaba and 113 through Busia for onward clearing and tax assessment. 

Last week, fuel transporters had declared that they would go on industrial action if the period within which their trucks are cleared is not reduced. 

Truck drivers had claimed that many of them had been victims of delays with some taking hours without being cleared. 

However, Mr Muyita said that whereas there had been unusual delays, records of the number of cleared trucks suggested that enough transporters had been cleared through Malaba and Busia.