OWNERS of cars and other machineries may have something to smile about, in the wake of which the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) has officially thrown its weight behind regulating the local lubricants business.
According to EWURA, all importers, producers, distributors and sellers of lubricants must have registered all types of lubricants with the authority by March 31, this year. After that deadline, the regulator won't allow any dealer to import, produce or distribute lubricants that would not have been registered.
Speaking to the 'Daily News' yesterday, EWURA Public Relations Manager, Mr Titus Kaguo, said it had come to the authority's attention that the situation on the ground with regard to the business of lubricants was pretty bad.
"Having successfully brought sanity into the fuel business in the country, we are now turning our attention to the business of lubricants. We are coming with full force to regulate it," Mr Kaguo emphatically stated. The EWURA public relation manager said a quick survey and reports from consumers revealed that fake, sub-standard and recycled lubricants were rampant.
"Generally speaking, the situation is worse. People are selling lubricants that are not fit for use, causing damage to cars and other machineries, occasioning immense loss to the owners," Mr Kaguo said. He pointed out that in injecting sanity into the business of lubricants, UWURA would fully collaborate with the Government Chemist Laboratory (GCLA),the Fair Competition Commission (FCC) and Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS).
Yesterday, UWURA issued an advertisement, requiring all lubricant wholesalers and or producers to register all types of the products with EWURA by March 31, this year. To facilitate the exercise, EWURA has availed its forms on its website: www.ewura.go.tz.
The forms can also be picked from its offices. In the same advertisement, it is stated that all lubricant blending plants operating in the country and distributors must also acquire EWURA licences. According to the authority, all lubricant distributors would be required to distribute or sell products from companies with which they would have entered into agreements.
EWURA also wants all lubricant distributors to enter into agreements with dealers and must ensure they (distributors) sell the products to them and not those with whom they don't have agreements. Stakeholders in the industry, especially lubricant wholesalers and producers, according to EWURA, must sensitise distributors and other dealers on the products.
The Chairperson of Tanzania Truck Owners Association (TATOA), Ms Angelina Ngalula, hailed the measures being instituted by EWURA but called for other regulatory bodies to consolidate scrutiny for car spare parts and tyres.
"Wear and tear of car engines, gearboxes and other parts in the trucks is high due to use of substandard lubricants that have flooded the market. Very unfortunate, one cannot tell the difference between the genuine and substandard ones," she said.
"We sincerely welcome the measures by EWURA because they will help us reduce maintenance costs, but such efforts will be meaningful only if other bodies, including TBS, tighten screws on the quality of spare parts and tyres," she said.
She remarked that whereas quality control organs were performing their duties well, they should deepen scrutiny to block access into the local market, of substandard products. A resident of Tabata Kimanga in Ilala District, Dar es Salaam, who preferred anonymity, hailed the decision by EWURA, saying: "Currently, you can't tell the difference between the genuine and fake lubricants until you use them, risking damaging your car."
Giving an example, the resident, who also owns a car, said eight months ago, he bought lubricant for the car's gearbox at Mwenge, but thereafter, changing gears wasn't possible, forcing him to drain it. About a month ago, stakeholders engaged in the lubricants business met at the TBS conference room to discuss challenges facing the industry during which EWURA reminded them to observe regulations governing the business.
According to Wikipedia, in 1999, an estimated 37,300,000 tons of lubricants were consumed worldwide. Automotive applications dominate, but other industrial, marine and metal working applications are also big consumers of lubricants.
Although air and other gas-based lubricants are known (e.g., in fluid bearings), liquid lubricants dominate the market, followed by solid lubricants. Lubricants are generally composed of a majority of base oil plus a variety of additives to impart desirable characteristics. Although generally lubricants are based on one type of base oil, mixtures of the base oils also are used to meet performance requirements.