A 13 year-old boy died Monday mid-morning as he tried to retrieve smuggled fuel from his grass-thatched house that was burning.
Police identified the deceased as Kassim Ajo, a resident of triangle cell triangle ward Koboko North division in Koboko Municipality. A neighbor, Mr Norbert Amuza, told Daily Monitor that the two boys went inside to fill fuel into their small bottles when the house caught fire.
"These two boys Kassim and Abibu went inside and locked themselves as they filled fuel for sale. Shortly after, I saw fire and the house was burning. We couldn't immediately rescue Kassim and Amuza is missing,” he said.
The District Police Commander (DPC), Mr Samuel Abwang told Daily Monitor that the boy had gone to pick more fuel from the house where he stored it.
“This is the same house where they were also cooking. So the house caught fire and that's how he died," he explained.
He added: "The deceased has been dealing in a small-scale business of selling fuel along Koboko-Moyo road. Parents should stop their children from selling fuel illegally because it is inflammable.”
In March, the Regional Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Operations Manager, Mr Ivan Kakaire, warned that: "Fuel is a dangerous commodity that should not be sold on the streets. God forbid! One time this will cause serious damage to people’s buildings and lives when it ignites into fire."
URA has for decades struggled to curb fuel smuggling that is now openly sold on the streets in most towns across the West Nile sub-region. Many of the fuel dealers are young and middle-aged boys.
Kakaire said: ‘‘The porous borders with DR Congo and South Sudan and change of tactics by smugglers are making the country lose billions in revenue.’’
In Ariwara Town in the DR Congo, 20 litres of fuel costs Shs59,000. And the fuel is in return sold in Arua town between Shs3,200 to Shs3,500, which is cheaper by over Shs1,000 compared to fuel station prices.