Outspoken Tanzania member of parliament and leader of the ACT-Wazalendo political party has criticised the move by Kenya to ban the importation of cooking gas via land borders with its neighbour, and now wants Dar es Salaam to retaliate if Nairobi fails to rescind the order.
According to Zitto Kabwe, the ban on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) imports is aimed at hindering the export of processed goods from Tanzania to the Kenyan market, which is in violation of the East African Community protocol on free movement of goods.
In a statement sent to the media, Mr Kabwe asked the government to intervene because the order seeks to “make Tanzania remain an exporter of raw materials as opposed to processed goods.”
The MP said that Dar es Salaam should take similar measures and ban Kenyan goods from its market, adding that Tanzania has invested in modern LPG plants for refilling cylinders for export.
“The Dar es Salaam port has a better system for importing LPG than Mombasa, making gas imports from Tanzania to Kenya cheaper. The decision by Kenya is aimed at protecting trade at the Mombasa port and is against the EAC protocol,” Mr Kabwe said.
But a source from Tanzania’s Ministry of Industry and Trade who requested anonymity told The EastAfrican that the government supported the ban which would help to crack down on unscrupulous traders who have been exporting fake re-fills to Kenya, and the mushrooming of illegal cooking gas plants along the border.
“We support Kenya on the ban because there are a number of unscrupulous traders who have established illegal plants for refilling the cylinders and selling them in Kenya. There are about three illegal refilling plants along the Tanzania- Kenya boarder and the situation had to be addressed,” said the source.
On April 24, Kenya’s Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau said traders will not be allowed to import gas from Tanzania via land borders effective end of this month.According to Mr Kamau, the ban is meant to eliminate illegal LPG filling plants which have cropped up in parts of the country, posing safety and security risks to consumers.
“The Cabinet Secretary has written a letter to Energy Regulatory Commissions, Customs and Kenya Bureau of Standards and designated Mombasa as the only point of import for LPG. So if you want to play in this game, come and invest in Kenya, import through Mombasa and then we can now follow up who is supplying unlicensed dealers. But now this whole thing about Tanzania is a thing of the past,” Mr Kamau told a briefing for the oil marketing companies organised by Kenya Pipeline Company on Monday.
Tanzania imports 70,000 metric tonnes of LPG annually but it is unclear how much of it goes to Kenya. Suppliers, however, view the country as a key market.