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Kenya plans gas tests at Namanga to curb counterfeits inflow

Penalties for illegal gas refilling has been
Penalties for illegal gas refilling has been increased more than tenfold to a minimum of Sh10 million. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya is set to install a cooking gas testing facility at the Namanga border with Tanzania to curb the flow of substandard liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from the neighbouring country.

The energy regulator Tuesday said it is working with the Kenya Bureau of Standards to install the quality watch facility after tests and piloting were completed last month.

Kenya has previously questioned the quality of Tanzania gas, sparking a trade spat that saw a ban on imports with Dar es Salaam blocking Kenyan goods.

“The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) is closely working with the Kenya Bureau of Standards to address a few issues raised by the supplier of the equipment such as the appropriate calibration standards for the equipment,” Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) girector-general Pavel Oimeke said.

“We are also in the final stages of setting up a sampling space at Namanga to enable safe sampling of road tankers entering Kenyan though Namanga,” Mr Oimeke said.

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LPG imports through Mombasa port are subjected to tests while those coming via land borders like Namanga are not vetted or weighed. This has tilted the market in favour of Tanzania imports.

Safety concerns have been raised on cooking gas from Dar es Salaam that were found to contain dangerously high portions of propane in relation to butane.

Kenya was also concerned that the Dar cooking gas lacked the chemical additive ethyl mercaptan (emitting rotten egg odour) that enable users to detect leakage because of the strong smell.

The missing cooking gas testing at the Kenyan border was blamed for the 2017 import ban Kenya placed LPG from Tanzania, sparking a trade dispute following concern over the difference in quality standards for LPG acceptable in the two countries.

Traders say Tanzania has set quality checks for LPG from Kenya, whose lack of testing facilities at the border has opened room for substandard gas imports.

Penalties for illegal gas refilling has been increased more than tenfold to a minimum of Sh10 million in the fresh drive for safety.

The fresh regulations before Parliament is an upgrade of 2009 rules that provided a penalty of not more than Sh1 million or jail term of less than one year.

The rules also provide for a Sh10 million fine for those discharging bulk gas in a location that lacks regulatory approval.

It also caps transportation of gas cylinders in a car to three unless regulatory exemptions are issued in the fresh attempt to curb those dealing in illegal refills and sell the commodity at a discount of up to 25 percent.

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