EPRA shuts down 32 illegal gas refilling stations

In a nationwide crackdown on illegal gas filling plants over the past year, the Energy and Regulatory Authority (EPRA) has recovered 26,000 gas cylinders. The energy regulator says the mop-up, which targeted Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, and Eldoret areas saw the authority save brand owners an estimated Kes1.2 billion worth of business.

Illegal gas-filling plants have been causing huge losses to brand owners as they usually not only undercut legitimate businesses but also prevent brand owners from reaping the optimum benefits of their investments in manufacturing, marketing, and maintaining the return flow of LPG cylinders for refilling.

Overall, the crackdown led to the closure of 32 illicit LPG refilling centres and the suspension of several LPG licenses.

EPRA Director General Daniel Kiptoo said the watchdog will be returning the impounded cylinders to the legitimate brand owners to enhance the availability of genuinely refilled LPG cylinders in the market.

Already, the first batch of 6000 cylinders has been handed over to the respective brand owners, as the regulator seeks to restore order in Kenya’s LPG market.

The latest undertaking in the crackdown saw a multi-agency team comprising EPRA, and other government regulatory and enforcement agencies raid a home at Utithini Area in Machakos County where an illegal refilling plant was closed down.

The multi-agency team impounded an LPG tanker, LPG refill equipment and an unassorted number of empty LPG cylinders lined up for refilling.

Read also: Epra closes 24 pump stations for non-compliance

Charges for operating illegal gas refiling plants

The raid also seized a mini-lorry loaded with refilled LPG cylinders ready for distribution to the market. Four people found at the premises have been arraigned before a court to answer criminal charges of operating an illegal LPG cylinder refill plant.

EPRA warned that any offending facility will see their LPG refill equipment impounded and LPG refill licenses revoked.

According to the energy (liquefied petroleum gas) regulations, 2009, it is prohibited to refill, rebrand, deface, or submit LPG cylinders belonging to another brand for maintenance and every LPG refill business must possess their own registered brand of at least 5,000 LPG cylinders or possess a written agreement allowing them to conduct refill business using the branded LPG cylinders from registered brand owners.

EPRA’s latest Biannual Statistics Report shows tax waivers on LPG fuelled LPG consumption by eight percent to stand at 360,594 metric tons. The use of LPG is set for triple-fold growth as the government implements the LPG Reticulation Project, which aims to install LPG reticulation kits in 5,000 public schools by the end of the year.

In February this year, at least six people were reported dead and 300 others injured when a truck ferrying gas burst into flames in Nairobi’s Embakasi area.

Epra said in a statement that the gas plant was illegal and that its officers had turned down repeated applications for construction permits to build a storage and gas filling plant at the ill-fated site.

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