2 May 2018

Uganda: UNBS Must Go After Fuel and All Other Counterfeits

editorial

Ugandans, more so motorists, must be shooting off celebratory fireworks now that they know who has been selling adulterated, smuggled or dumped fuel in plain sight - causing serious damage to their cars.

Last week, the ministry of Energy and Uganda National Bureau of Standards confronted a rampant fuel adulteration crisis by publicly naming at least 144 non-compliant fuel stations.

This was a remarkable first by many standards. An analysis of the published list shows that motorists in Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono, who consume at least 60 percent of fuel countrywide, also buy the most adulterated product.

A quick count found that of the 144 stations, about 40 are in the three central districts.

This public naming of suspect stations goes a long way in pointing motorists to where they should buy genuine quality fuel. What motorists knew all along is that there's plenty of adulterated fuel on the market, but didn't know who specifically was doing the selling and where.

Though no serious penalties or criminal charges were brought against the culprits and no licenses were cancelled this time round, the naming and shaming is commendable because it is a "building block" and offers a partial anti-dote to contain the practice.

Now that we know who the bad dealers are, we should simply avoid them. Though some dealers on the list are little-known or not known at all, there are familiar brands.

That list should be enough to help the regular consumer make an informed decision.

It hurts that a Ugandan motorist buys arguably the most expensive fuel in the region, and yet ends up consuming a tainted product that eventually damages his or her car. These fuel pump station owners are awash in cash, thanks to their unscrupulous ways.

The routine inspection and monitoring shouldn't be limited only to downstream petroleum facilities and products but should also loop in all products on the market to ensure compliance with set standards and lock out all counterfeits.

In future, the supervisory agencies must impose very stringent and deterrent penalties to stop counterfeiting.

Uganda

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