The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has closed down a total of 11 gas refilling plants in Nairobi in an attempt to tame illegal refilling of gas that is said to have reached alarming proportions.
ERC said it has forced owners of three of what it said were illegal refilling plants to demolish them. Another eight plants have been closed and sealed.
ERC said the plants have been operating without being licensed, contravening numerous laws while putting the lives of consumers at risk.
“All identified illegal LPG refilling facilities in the Nairobi area have either been close and sealed or demolished,” said Linus Gitonga director of petroleum at ERC in a letter to chief executives of oil marketing companies.
“The exercise of closing and sealing identified unlicensed facilities will be expanded to the rest of the country and we target to complete the exercise in the next two weeks,” said Mr. Gitonga.
The move is expected to restore confidence in the market.
A segment of the industry has in the in past raised concerns, noting that illegal refilling of both cooking and industrial LPG is being undertaken illegally, which has put consumers at grave danger.
Polycarp Igathe chairman Petroleum Institute of East Africa (PIEA) has in the past estimated that over 70pc of the LPG market has been taken over by illegal players.
Mr. Igathe said this has had the effect of locking legal players out of the gas market. The LPG has been a lucrative business for the industry, especially after ERC started controlling the prices of petrol, diesel and Kerosene, a move that resulted in the reduction of margins for oil marketers.
“The LPG market has gone rogue. At the moment, seventy per cent of the LPG cylinders that are in the market are either illegally re-branded or filled illegally. They do not meet the set standards and are a major safety concern,” said Mr. Igathe at a previous briefing.