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Crisis looms as gas suppliers threaten to go on strike

Saturday September 14 2019

A gas selling outlet in Kasarani, Nairobi.

A gas outlet in Kasarani, Nairobi. Suppliers of liquefied petroleum gas have threatened to go on strike. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

COLLINS OMULO
By COLLINS OMULO
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Suppliers of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) have threatened to go on strike, citing harassment by police.

Energy Dealers Association (EDA) an association for small and medium-sized firms that deal in LPG has threatened to withdraw its services.

The association, a consortium with a pool of more than 30 LPG brands across the country, has given the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) seven days to ensure police harassment ends. 

NEW LAW

EDA Secretary General Kepher Odongo claimed that police officers have been selectively enforcing the new law requiring all LPG retailers, wholesalers and transporters to acquire licences for businesses following the abolishment of the compulsory LPG cylinder exchange pool.

Mr Odongo alleged that the police have been targeting small LPG firms whereas multi-national firms and petrol stations, which are also required to have licences, have been excluded from the exercise.  

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“We want the energy regulator to stop harassment of retailers, we will direct our members to stop selling gas to the public,” added Mr Odongo on Saturday.

It is estimated that EDA members control 55 per cent of the retail market, while the rest is served by marketers such as Shell, Vivo Energy, KenolKobil and Total Kenya.

The Petroleum Act 2019 says the licences will be specific to the authorised cylinder brands. Retailers are required to obtain prior written consent from brand owners.

AWARENESS

The law provides for a three-month sensitisation period for the regulator to spread awareness among LPG dealers about the new rule.

However, he is concerned that the window period elapsed without dealers being sensitised yet the law prescribes stiff penalties for non-compliance.

This could lead to a fine of not less than Sh10 million or a jail term not less than five years or both. It could also lead to withdrawal of operating licence.

Mr Odongo clarified that they are not against the new law. He however said that EPRA did not sensitise people on the new rules.

COMPLIANCE

He wants the energy regulator to reach out to retailers before issuing warnings for non-compliance.

The EDA boss said they met EPRA officials led by Director General Pavel Oimeke and Director Petroleum Edward Kinyua two weeks ago and agreed that the enforcement of the new law would be stopped for the next three months as the energy regulator creates awareness on the new regulation.

 “EPRA promised to have weekly advertisements to sensitise the retailers on the new law,” said Mr Odongo.