LPG retailers call off strike after being assured of end to ‘police harassment’
Users of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) can now breathe a sigh of relief after a section of firms dealing in the product called off an impending strike.
Last week, an association for small and mid-sized firms dealing in LPG threatened to withdraw its services citing harassment from police officers.
Under Energy Dealers Association (EDA), a consortium with a pool of more than 30 LPG brands across the country, the firms gave Kenya’s energy regulator – Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) – seven days to rein on the police officers harassing their members or else they stop selling gas to the public.
However, EDA Secretary General Kepher Odongo said that they have reached an agreement with the government which has promised to rein on any harassment during the transition period set to run up to December 31, 2019.
“We will not go on strike as we had earlier said after holding a fruitful meeting with Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho on Friday,” said Mr Odongo on Sunday.
In a letter dated September 20, 2019, addressed to PS Kibicho, LPG Exchange Pool chairman Cyprian Mungume had complained of the arrests.
He cited Bungoma, Kibwezi, Nairobi and Busia as some of the places where the traders have been arrested, taken to court and charged with operating without a trading license.
This was in response to a letter dated September 5, 2019 from Dr Kibicho which directed that a multi-agency team be formed to enforce the new Petroleum Regulations with a crackdown on all the unlicensed gas filling stations and licensed outlets contravening the regulations.
But in a public notice on local dailies on Sunday, EPRA Director General Pavel Oimeke said they have noted with concern the arrest of LPG cylinder retailers across the country for lack of requisite licenses as required by the Petroleum (LPG) Regulations of 2019 despite a six month transition period provided for under Seventh Schedule of the Regulations.
He said that the transition period which ends on December 31, 2019 from the date of gazetting the Regulations, was to allow for the retailers already in the market prior to the gazettement of the new Regulations to obtain requirements for licenses, apply for the licenses and obtain them.
“Accordingly, in order to avoid a supply crisis in the LPG cylinder retail sector, all concerned stakeholders are hereby informed that any retail LPG license enforcement shall be guided by the Authority at the expiry of the transition period,” said Mr Oimeke in the notice.
Mr Odongo had claimed that police officers had been selectively applying enforcement of a new law requiring all LPG retailers, wholesalers and transporters to hold licenses for each business location following the abolishment of the compulsory LPG cylinder exchange pool by going round targeting only small and mid-sized LPG firms and arresting them.
It is estimated that EDA members control 55 percent of the retail market, while the rest is served by marketers such as Shell’s licensee Vivo Energy, KenolKobil and Total Kenya.
Mr Oimeke, nevertheless, explained that according to the Petroleum Act 2019, LPG retailers are required, during the transition period, to only stock and sell cylinders with prior authorisation by the brand owner.
“Retailers found in breach of the aforementioned provision risks a fine of not less than Sh10 million,” said the director general.
He further cautioned LPG marketers that refilling or re-branding of cylinders without prior authorisation of brand owners is illegal and carries a similar fine.