The Parliamentary Committee on Trade And Industry led by Mbarara City South Member of Parliament Mwine Mpaka on Thursday March 17th, 2022 ordered the closure of two fuel stations, after it was discovered that the operators of the said stations were adulterating the fuel.
Preliminary investigations indicate that several pump attendants were arrested while others are still at large, after the Committee, which visited the fuel stations discovered that the operators were mixing petrol with another chemical suspected to be paraffin.
The affected stations that have since been closed down include Fuelex Busega and Marino Services, in Kiti B Zone, Matugga, Kawempe Division.
Sources reveal that the closure of the said fuel stations followed an impromptu quality assurance search that was conducted by the Parliamentary Committee on Trade and officials from the Uganda National Bureau of Standards, without alerting the operators of fuel stations.
Speaking about the investigation, MP Mpaka said that; “From the investigations done so far, we have discovered one petrol station, Fuelex, which is believed to have adulterated their fuel by mixing it with another chemical we are yet to identify although it is most likely to be paraffin.”
He added that; “We are going to send the results to a more equipped laboratory as we wait for the results and we have arrested pump attendants plus putting sealing on their pumps as investigations go on.”
The legislator however revealed that the investigation is ongoing to unearth all fuel stations that are adulterating fuel and those that hoarding fuel in a bid to cause a scarcity and hike prices for the same.
He revealed that so far the Committee has visited six fuel stations including Shell and Total Uganda in Kibuye and around the Kampala Central Business District (CBD).
It should however be noted that Fuelex Petrol Station, which belongs to city businessman John Imaniraguha, is not new to controversy.
Some time back in 2010 the Uganda Revenue Authority closed Fuelex Nalukolongo fuel station over tax evasion in a bid to fight the crime, which many fuel stations commit, thereby making government loses billions of shillings in unpaid taxes.
The then URA Public and Corporate Affairs Officer in the Commissioner General’s Office, Peter Kaujju, said the fuel station was closed after a trailer loaded with about 50,000 litres of fuel worth Shs42 million dumped the consignment at the station on September 17, 2009, without the company clearing the requisite taxes.
It should be noted that to date, Fuelex Uganda Imaniraguha, whose name revolves around several scandals that include land grabbing and tax evasion, is battling a case in in court in which he is being accused by URA of evading taxes worth hundreds of millions of shillings.
In 2016, Imaniraguha was arrested and charged with smuggling fuel into the country.
Imaniraguha appeared before the Anti-Corruption Court and was charged with one count of being in possession of unaccustomed goods contrary to section 200 (d) (iii) of the East African Community Customs Management Act.
It was alleged then that Imanirahuga, alongside two other Fuelex directors; Vincent Sebikari Kagame and Edith Nyirandamara, while at Fuelex in Wakaliga Zone in Rubaga Division in Kampala District, had in possession 13250 litres of diesel valued at over Shs 12M, which fuel they knew was unaccustomed.
Imaniraguha, who had been on URA’s wanted list, denied the charges before Grade One Magistrate, Fred Peter Lochomin and was granted cash bail of Shs 6m.
It is not yet clear whether he paid the fine or not but what is certain is that Imaniraguha’s name has for a long time been revolving around cases of fuel smuggling and tax evasion.