Uganda: Namutumba Bans Sale of Petrol in Plastic Bottles

Authorities in Namutumba District have banned the sale of petrol in plastic bottles citing 'risk factors'.

This fuel sold on the black market is reportedly stolen from fuel tanks that break down on highways.

According to authorities, the ban takes immediate effect and a harsh penalty awaits the offenders.

This follows media reports from the neighbouring Tanzania at the weekend, where more than 70 people perished after a fuel tanker overturned and exploded in Morogoro.

Motorcyclists and vendors rushed to the scene to siphon fuel from the truck.

The Town Clerk of Namutumba Town Council, Mr Shariff Kabakubya, quoting what he referred to as 'petroleum rules' at the weekend, said: "A person can only carry up to 20 litres of petrol from a gas pump without a licence, but the same can't be done with bottles".

"Like we banned the sale of acid which women were using to burn their co-wives, we are restricting the sale of petrol in bottles because people are using it to set their neighbours' houses ablaze since it is easily accessible," he said.

The chairperson of Namutumba Town Council, Mr Godfrey Mwembe, said school-going children are now sniffing the fuel.

"Petrol can be used as a weapon against anyone, hence posing a security risk. We do not want people to lose their lives over something which can be resolved.

"Early this year, two people perished in fire in Bulange Village (Namutumba District) when a house caught fire and it was later discovered that there was a jerrycan of petrol in the house," he said.

The Namutumba Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Amos Ssempala Kigozi, said: "There will be no more discussion about this ban. It is time for those who have been dealing in petrol as a retail business to change the enterprise."

Adding: "Those interested in continuing with the petrol-selling business, should open up fuel pumps and get valid licences."

"Petrol is listed as an explosive which can have adverse effects if sold on the black market. And by law, it is supposed to be sold for its intended purpose; we are therefore checking its sale and purchase for other purposes," he said.

Adding: "Those interested in continuing with the petrol-selling business, should open up fuel pumps and get valid licences."

Reactions

Ms Christine Basalirwa, a petrol vendor on Namutumba-Kaiti Road, said the ban has done her a disservice because the fuel she was selling in plastic mineral water bottles is what is being sold at the pumps.

"This ban looks stage-managed between authorities and pump owners in the area," she said.

Mr Wilber Mangeni, a boda boda rider at Kaiti Stage, said vendors have been selling petrol for as low as Shs1,000 per litre unlike at fuel pumps.

Mr Banur Koire, who owns a petrol pump on Kaiti Road in Namutumba Town Council, said when customers come for petrol in mineral water bottles, they are sent away.

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