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Seven People Nabbed As ERC Cracks Down On Illegal LPG Refilling Unit In Makongeni.

Some of the stuff that was impounded at the illegal gas filling yard in Makongeni Thika. (Inset: Kiambu Director of Environment Andrew Njenga Kimani.
Seven suspects were arrested in Thika’s Makongeni Estate when officials from the Energy Regulation Commission (ERC) and detectives from Special Crimes Prevention Unit raided an illegal LPG gas filling unit, seizing 213 assorted filled cylinders, 156 empty ones, a tanker and two lorries.

Several others are said to have escaped during the night raid. This comes in the wake of revelations that there are many filling stations operating in the area illegally.

The illegal plant, located in a residential area, has been operating for quite some time exposing the lives of residents in danger.

Speaking to the press after the raid, Kiambu Director of Environment Andrew Njenga Kimani warned members of public about the business. According to him, the suspects were following risky methods to refill the gas cylinders, which could have been dangerous in case of a blast.

“This yard is located within a residential area posing grave danger to not only the fillers, their customers but also the public. There has not been any safety precaution taken here and this is very dangerous and may lead to explosions and fire accidents,” said Kimani.

He decried the increased illegal refilling of LPG Gas, calling on the ERC to hasten its efforts in curbing the business.

“The growth in demand for cooking gas over the years is among main factors fueling growth of the illicit industry segment. These illegal racketeers sell the LPG at a lesser price than the commercial rates charged by fuel filling stations so the demand for them is very high,” he added.

Otherwise, the officer promised that stringent action would be taken against those who traded in this illicit business who he claimed used a well-entrenched network of middlemen to divert LPG gas and cylinders from petroleum companies an operation that has been so difficult for government enforcers to detect the illegal diversion.

Documents found in the yard showed that the business belonged to Pekenya Gas Suppliers Ltd of Box 70310 Thika. The daily sales documents indicated that it was a mega business with an average daily turnover of about sh. 400,000.

Majority of the clients are well known supermarkets and petrol stations within Thika Town and its environs who, according to the records, frequented the place buying gas worth hundreds of thousands of shillings.

The supplier uses a motorised pump to siphon the gas from the reservoirs of vehicles modified to run on LPG and with a specialised nozzles, they inject cooking gas into the gas cylinders. There are also some weighing scale used by the racketeers to determine the amount of gas they retailed.

For quite a while now, ERC officials have been complaining of the mushrooming of such illegal yards. Such premises abet in siphoning off of LPG from the domestic gas cylinders and cheating of consumers by supplying underweight cylinders. It is suspected that the gas is sourced from some errant LPG distributors spread all over the country and the East African region. There have been so many premises across the country indulging in the business of illegal filling of LPG.

Statistics on the other hand are scanty as to how much gas is bought and sold in the black market, but the industry players say the segment could account for as much as 30 percent of LPG that is consumed in the country.

Last month, two people were seriously wounded in a fire incident caused by a gas explosion in Ndenderu area, Kiambu County. The two were part of a group working at an illegal gas filling point when one of the cylinders leaked and caused a fire and loud explosion. Police and locals said the fire spread fast, burning the two as their colleagues escaped.

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