Cooking gas is fast becoming the most commonly used source of energy in homes, more so after the ban on logging in public forests and widespread bylaws against charcoal burning and transportation. The adoption of cooking gas, even in low-income households, has in recent years as well been boosted by rising taxes on kerosene — partly to curb adulteration of motor fuel and also to lift the use of clean energy.
Notably, the government has put in a lot effort mainly by formulating policy and investing or encouraging investment in storage and transport infrastructure for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). All this is meant to save forests and trees besides fostering clean energy that helps keep Kenyans healthy, thus saves on medical bills. However, not all policies have been positive, especially the recent dissolution of the mandatory exchange of cylinders and standardisation of regulators. But a set of new measures under the Petroleum (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) Regulations give hope that the government is still headed in the right direction as far as steering the industry goes.
The regulations all boil down to ensuring safety in the industry, and this has been cited as the reason for pushing for oligopolistic rules in the industry. Some of the regulations end up protecting the turf of the big boys while locking out newer players. Now marketers and sellers will be required to keep a record of buyers to help track the cylinders in case there is an accident. The dates of sale will be recorded and details stored for one year. Most remarkable though is a stipulation that marketers provide insurance for the cylinders in case of an accident. While this might not go down well with the vendors, though probably much welcome by insurance companies and consumers, this will go a long way in having the marketers take precaution before putting cylinders in the market. It is also likely to improve the handling of cylinders once they go on sale. On top, the marketers will be required to use Radio Frequency Identification and quick response codes that will be critical in case of mishaps.
These new regulations are timely and MPs should pass them without much ado. The industry for years has ran much like the chaotic public service vehicle sector with danger looming in the shadows. Let the regulations pass with changes possibly focusing on safeguarding the welfare of the small-scale resellers and cushioning consumers from price inflation.