Police have seized more than 45,000 litres of cooking gas at an illegal filling plant in Karatina suburbs, Nyeri County.
In the joint operation led by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), General Service Unit (GSU) and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), a truck full of liquefied petroleum gas and 414 gas cylinders were seized.
No arrests were made in the raid that was conducted on Sunday afternoon as the authorities reported that the owner and workers managed to flee.
DCI Assistant Inspector General of Police John Gachomo, who led the crackdown, said a search for the plant’s owner is ongoing.
Investigators suspect the gas could have been stolen mid transit for resale by unscrupulous dealers.
“In most cases, the gas is usually stolen from legitimate dealers and transported to such facilities for redistribution,” Mr Gachomo said.
Besides prosecution, police will seek orders to demolish the plant and recover assets from its owner for gas already sold.
Interestingly, this is not the first time the plant has been in the limelight for illegal operations. It was also shut down by ERC in October last year.
The plant, located in the industrial area of Karatina, had been operational since January 26, 2016, without a license from ERC.
Found in a compound near the Nairobi-Nanyuki railway line, it is camouflaged by old warehouses, some abandoned.
Liquefied petroleum gas tank trailers are usually parked inside the compound fenced off with high perimeter concrete fence, with a high gate that remains closed.
The area surrounding the plant has many residential buildings, posing a risk to the occupants.
Investigations by the Nation on the plant’s existence and its operations have pointed at underground dealings and complacency on the side of authorities who have admitted to being aware of its existence, yet no action was being taken.
According to earlier findings by the Nation, the plant sold LPG cylinders secretly and usually at rates below market prices.
Local gas dealers alleged the plant used boda boda operators and mainly targeted university students, who are looking for the product at lower prices.
It was following these complaints by local gas retailers and residents that ERC moved in to revoke a transportation license that the plant initially held.
However, the plant was back in business, refilling cylinders from the same facility.
On Sunday, DCI county boss John Gachomo insisted the plant would this time round be shut down completely.