Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The government has announced that fuel stations situated in close proximity will be mandated to merge.
During a sensitization effort for the Fuel Marking and Quality Monitoring Program (FMQMP) in several western Uganda districts, including Ibanda, Isingiro, Mbarara, Ntungamo, and Rukungiri, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) emphasized the issue of congestion within the industry.
UNBS expressed concern that numerous operators were establishing stations in various towns without adhering to regulations.
Peter Kitimbo, the FMQMP field supervisor, stated, “The standard stipulates the distance allowed between two fuel stations and there’s a plan by the authorities to harmonise locations for congested fuel stations, for example, if three stations are near each other, they will be required to harmonise and work together as one station.”
Kitimbo however did not reveal when this would start.
“Some of the stations are constructed in road reserves, some at shop verandas, others have no canopy, and all this is not acceptable according to the standards,” Kitimbo said, adding that many stations also violate the space standards.
“The minimum area size should be 100 ft x 100 ft but you find fuel stations operating in a lesser area than that stipulated by the standard.”
Approximately 25 registered fuel stations are operating in violation of national standards for both fuel and infrastructure, according to Kitimbo. As of December 2023, the Ministry’s database recorded a total of 4,786 retail fuel stations, with a commendable compliance rate of 99.5 percent.
The government implemented the fuel marking program to mark all locally consumed fuel at border points, ensuring quality and safeguarding consumers.
“Because of this program, fuel adulteration has reduced to less than 1 per cent in Uganda,” said John Friday, acting assistant commissioner, monitoring and inspection in the petroleum supply department.
The ministry and UNBS have jointly encouraged all fuel station owners to proactively adhere to standard requirements for establishing and operating fuel stations, as well as complying with petroleum product standards. They emphasize the importance of self-compliance rather than relying solely on regulators and enforcement authorities.
“I would like to encourage fuel dealers to be ethical and upright in the delivery of services to the public. Embrace self-regulation in respect to quality and quantity standards because you too are consumers of this fuel,” said Daniel Nangalama, the acting UNBS Executive Director.
He explained that the quality requirements and standards specifications for the fuel industry have been disseminated to enhance compliance and ethical practices.
Nangalama emphasized the significance of local leaders collaborating with government agencies, as this collaboration strengthens synergies, facilitating a seamless flow of information among fuel suppliers, consumers, and various government ministries, departments, and agencies.
“The Fuel Marking and Quality Monitoring program has brought on board mobile laboratories with advanced technology that has enabled testing of fuel quality at different fuel stations in all corners of the country, which has improved the compliance rates,” he added.
Kitimbo urged fuel dealers to obtain and adhere to industry standards through self-regulation. He highlighted that the relevant standards for the industry can be accessed on the UNBS website, emphasizing the importance of proactive compliance within the fuel sector.