Kampala, Uganda | URN | Ugandans are being duped into buying wrong brands of cooking gas after it emerged that some vendors were re-painting gas cylinders into the expensive brands to sell at a higher price.
Dauda Kakeeto, the Sales Manager of Mount Meru Petroleum Gas, said they found that some retailers who bought gas from them had repainted them to another brand in order to make a higher profit margin.
Mount Meru, he said, this week registered a case where a vendor had been painting their cylinders from their grey colour to Total Gas colours complete with a logo. The vendor Joseph Amanya was reported at Kikoni police station in Makerere.
Total sells higher than Mount Meru by a difference of between 10,000 to 20,000 Shillings depending on where you buy it. The vendors usually repaint to make that difference. Mount Meru is still selling cooking gas at promotional prices since they are new in the market.
Daniel Mushabe, the general manager of Mount Meru, said such cases are common. He said sometimes, vendors buy a big cylinder of 48kgs and use that to refill the small ones of 6kgs.
Here, he said, they put like 4kgs instead of 6kgs in the cylinder to be able to make a difference. The refilling is illegal and dangerous but some people do it anyway. Some Ugandans have complained of buying cylinders whose quantity was less than they expected.
Another reason for repainting is that vendors also want fast-paced gas sales to be able to recoup their money quickly. The cooking gas sub-sector is the least regulated area where customers end up buying counterfeits when they ask for particular brands.
Godwin Bwogi, the spokesperson of Uganda National Bureau of Standards said repainting cylinders was a case of counterfeit and companies that selling them gas should take interest and report them to police.
On the issue of selling customers less quantity than they order for, Bwogi said UNBS works on weight issues but said if a customer has doubts over the gas they are buying, they ask gas sellers to measure it again.
For the companies whose gas cylinders are repainted, they lose money in terms of their cylinders getting lost in the exercise. The companies also lose in terms of a distorted brand because the quality of gas might not be good and customers attribute it to you after the cylinder has been repainted to your brand.
Tens of cooking gas brands have entered Uganda market of recent although usage is still low at just less than 2 per cent of the population. There are no official statistics on the depth of counterfeits and forgery in the sector.