Kenya’s Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), a government-sanctioned watchdog for the country’s fuel industry, has this week stepped up its efforts in a long-running battle against illicit trade within the sector.
The Commission carried out an operation against illicit trade and fuel dumping at an illegal site in the country’s Otonglo Area in Kisumu County.
The raid, which was conducted in collaboration with Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the General Service Unit (GSU) officers recovered 4,500 litres of export diesel.
The DCI, a policing body that investigates illegal activities such as Terrorism, Cyber Crime, Land Fraud, Drug Related Issues, Financial and Hi-tech Crimes, and Serious Crime, was integral in making the crackdown a success.
During the operation, five suspects were arrested and a vehicle impounded. The five suspects were arraigned in court on the same day and charged with operating petroleum business without a permit contrary to a Kenyan law under Section 80(1) of the country’s Energy Act of 2006.
In accordance with the legal frameworks, the illegal site will be demolished.
“The Commission wishes to urge members of the public to continue being vigilant and to immediately report any instances of malpractice or suspected fuel adulteration activities to the Commission,” the ERC told Kenyans in a statement.
The crackdown comes just as Kenya is looking to capitalize on the lucrative fuel export industry following the discovery of crude oil reserves in its Northern region.
Illicit trade has plagued the country’s fuel sector for several years though the government has recently upped its efforts to combat the vice.
Rogue and unlicensed traders have been described as a bane to the industry and a drain on the economy, given the fact that their substandard products do more harm than good.
Adulterated fuel refers to petrol whose quality has been compromised by adding kerosene or diesel in order to increase its quantity.
Adulterated fuel can damage vehicles and has been linked to increased wear and tear in engines.
As such, the ERC has been adamant in warning consumers to only deal with trusted distributors.