THE recent move by the local oil companies to ask the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) to intervene over what they claim is poor quality of petrol in the market shows that all is not well in the business.
The oil marketing companies are particularly disturbed by petrol supplied by Augusta Energy between January and March, this year which is suspected to have been mixed with ethanol, which is cheaper. The Swiss-based Augusta Energy has won three consecutive tenders to supply oil to Tanzania through the bulk procurement system from January to June 2012 with each lot covering two months.
The complaints are contained in a letter by the oil marketers dated April 5, 2012, to the regular tasked to oversee smooth operations of the new system. The companies also want EWURA to compel Augusta Energy to submit the port's certificate of quality for the vessels that discharged fuel between January and March.
Fuel adulteration, which painted the country's image negatively, at home and abroad in the past few years, ended recently when the government waived taxes on kerosene, the main ingredient in the malpractice.
This move restored public confidence on the oil sector and ultimately changed hearts of importers from the neighbouring countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi and Zambia who had threatened to abandon the Dar es Salaam port and look for alternative routes.
But generally, the national economy suffered as a result of fuel adulteration because the landlocked countries were forced to look for other ports to handle their imports and exports. For example, the DRC which has been enjoying warm relations with Tanzania for decades is now contemplating using Namibian ports due to bad experience from poor performance and fuel adulteration at the Dar facility.
Now, with the bad picture of fuel adulteration cases resurfacing, efforts to make the Dar port the regional hub are likely to fail. Much as the bulk procurement system is good if handled properly, a few greedy people should not be allowed to seize the opportunity to make quick money at the expense of the economy.
Best business practices must always be adhered. The government must learn from Kenya and Mozambique whereby bulk oil procurement is handled with maximum care and professionalism.