The Tanzania Bureau of Standards yesterday warned that some people out to sabotage the bulk procurement system had resorted to tampering with the imported fuel, saying investigations were on to nab the culprits.
The Bureau cleared the Petroleum Importation Coordinator of any hand in the illegal activity, saying it suspected some disgruntled dealers out to sabotage the bulk procurement system.
The revelation comes barely a day after this paper carried reports of ensuing friction between PIC and TBS over the bulk fuel procurement system.
Speaking to this reporter in his office yesterday, the TBS Director General, Charles Ekelege said people misunderstood the notice his office placed in various papers declaring blending of gasoline (petrol) with ethanol/alcohol as adulteration and thus illegal in the country.
It said in the advert that there had been misuse and misinterpretation of the use of organic oxygenates in the Tanzania Standard for gasoline (TZS 672:2009, unleaded petrol (gasoline) for motor vehicles-specification) under sub clause 4.6.3”.
The TBS Head clarified yesterday that PIC has been importing standard petrol from a refinery following all set criteria by the bureau and other organs as stated in the contract.
He said blending was not done at the refinery. Only chemical reaction takes place at that level. The oxygen content of unleaded gasoline incorporating ethanol, higher alcohol and other oxygenated compounds doesn’t exceed 3.7 percent, he said.
“What we know is that it isn’t true that petrol can be completely free of some elements of ethanol. Very little content exists, not above 3.7 and this is found at the refinery,” said Ekelege.
He said they decided to place the advert after receiving several complaints from the public, notably consumers who said they were getting substandard petrol from the market.
“We got one sample from the market and when we tested it, the petrol had 19 percent ethanol. This means there are people who buy imported clean fuel and blend it while in the market.
“We suspect that some traders are blending petrol while in the market. This is adulteration. And this, I think is done purposely to sabotage our bulk procurement system and destroy the good image of PIC and TBS. Remember, it is TBS alone who test petrol and allow it to enter the market after being satisfied that the importer had met all the required condition or reject the commodity when it does not meet the set standards,” said Ekelege.
“We have been saying that there are people who want to sabotage this system, to show that it is not efficient in oil importation. But the truth is that this is the best system and we have been using our own 2009 standards which have not changed,” he said.
He said the accusation that TBS have been allowing substandard petrol to enter the country prompted the institution to place the advert.
But we are also going to launch an operation to track down the culprits,” said the Director General.
He advised PIC to continue importing petrol through the bulk procurement arrangement, saying the bureau had noted the content of the ethanol found in their imported commodity, which was within the set standards and that they had never been implicated in blending their product.
“They have to note that content of ethanol at the refinery which involves chemical reaction cannot be avoided and it is allowed. But we are talking about the content of ethanol after blending. This is what is in the market currently. We are fighting against it. PIC has never done blending, according to our knowledge,” said Ekelege, adding: “Our aim is to protect bulk procurement system from being sabotaged and destroyed by people who do not wish this country good.”
“Today an officer from the PIC came here seeking clarification on the advert. I told him: “I am protecting you from unscrupulous traders who have invaded the oil market,” adding: “I told him further: “Have I ever stopped you from importing petrol into the country? This is because you have been meeting the set criteria.”
He said they were sure there was a person out there trying to mock TBS and PIC. “We are going to deal with them,” stressed Ekelege.
On Saturday the PIC attacked TBS for placing an advert in the media which was accusing importers of gasoline of blending the commodity.
In a strong reaction to a notice published by TBS, the PIC said the written notice by the bureau was wrong and had not followed factual specifications indicated in the original TBS standards (TZS 672:2009), which the bureau had drawn up through a committee.
PIC chairman Mansoor Shanif also accused TBS of deciding to put out the notice before contacting PIC to hear their side of the story. “The way I see it, is as if it was not TBS which placed the adverts,” said Mansoor, who is also the Kwimba MP. He stressed that they had violated any standards in importing the commodity.