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UNBS to force fuel stations constructed next to each other to merge

Fuel stations constructed next to each other will have to merge, the government has said.

While conducting a sensitisation exercise for the Fuel Marking and Quality Monitoring program (FMQMP) in the western Uganda districts of lbanda, lshaka, Mbarara, Ntungamo and Rukungiri, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) said congestion was one of the challenges facing the industry with many operators in different towns setting up stations without complying with the regulations.

"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," said Peter Kitimbo, FMQMP field supervisor.

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."

He said about 25 fuel stations registered to do business are non-compliant with the national standards for fuel and the fuel infrastructure. Kitimbo revealed that by the close of December 2023, a total of 4,786 retail fuel stations were registered in the ministry's database and that the compliance rate was now at 99.5 per cent.

The government introduced the fuel marking programme so that all fuel meant for local consumption is marked at the border points to ensure quality and protect 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 urged all fuel station owners to ensure compliance with the standard requirements for setting up and operating fuel stations, as well as petroleum products standards, instead of waiting for regulators and enforcers of the standards.

"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 business have been shared to maximise compliance and ethics. Nangalama also explained how important it was for the local leaders to work jointly with the government agencies. This, according to him, helps to strengthen synergies for a smooth flow of information between fuel suppliers, consumers, 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 the fuel dealers to acquire the standards and ensure compliance through self-regulation. The various standards for the industry are also available on the UNBS website.

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