Nairobi — The Petroleum Institute of East Africa (PIEA) has called on the government to introduce duty on kerosene in the coming budget to reduce cases of fuel adulteration in the country.
PIEA Chairman Polycarp Igathe laments that over 70 percent of kerosene in the country is being used by unscrupulous traders who mix it with petrol or diesel and sold at extra profit instead of benefiting poor Kenyans.
The government on the other hand is losing close to Sh7 billion annually through the illegal business with most of the fuel dens being along major highways.
"Right now the biggest concentration of dens is along Mombasa road, along Nakuru Salgaa areas and along Kisumu to Malaba route. I think as a country time has come for us to stop glorifying criminals as entrepreneurs," he urged.
Igathe said introduction of taxes on kerosene has been also initiated in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda due to the same menace.
"If you put duty on kerosene, the adulteration will diminish greatly. Otherwise at the moment instead of supporting the poor man, we are supporting the criminally inclined rich person. This is what has happened for a long time," he complained.
In 2011, the government cut the excise duty on kerosene by 30 percent as a measure aimed at alleviating suffering especially poor Kenyans.
But leaders in the petroleum industry lament that this has not been the case but instead kerosene is being used for illegal business.
"There is a lot of 'smoking' cars, even the relatively new ones because of the fuel adulteration. I don't think we are making a demand to the government but an appeal," Igathe insisted.
The government was urged to work through the County Commissioners who can easily identify some of the illegal fuel dens where adulteration takes place and are publicly known. "Some are also used to fill gas and that is why we have so many cases of gas explosions in our homes."
Igathe, who is also the Vivo Energy Kenya Managing Director, was speaking on Tuesday during the launch of mobile fuel testing laboratory in Nairobi.
Vivo Energy Kenya is the company that distributes and markets Shell branded fuel and lubricants.
The mobile lab, fitted into a vehicle, will be collecting samples randomly from Shell stations and commercial customer sites, conducting basic quality tests on site.
"Every motorists' nightmare is buying adulterated fuel since it damages and shortens the lifespan of the vehicle's engine. Now is it possible to check fuel quality at a Shell fuelling station."