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East Africa: 500 petrol stations face ERC closure in safety crackdown

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More than 500 petrol stations across the country are facing closure after they were found in breach of safety and quality standards set by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

The petrol stations have failed to meet the prescribed construction specifications and have irregularly incorporated additional businesses such as eateries, car wash sheds, and offices in contravention of the regulator’s terms, according to ERC.

Edward Kinyua, the acting director of Petroleum at ERC, said that out of the 1,731 licensed petrol stations, more than 30 percent that failed to meet the standards would face action from the regulator.

“All non-compliant stations will be served with improvement notices. Those that will not have complied by the end of the notice period will be served with closure orders,” Mr. Kinyua said, adding that some stations face express closure as they cannot be salvaged.

The ERC, which licenses petrol stations, said the majority of the stations in violation of the standards were built before the law creating the market regulator was enacted in 2008.

The industry lobby, Petroleum Institute of East Africa, chairperson Wanjiku Manyara said its members had put in place internal mechanisms to ensure compliance with the set standards.

“PIEA promotes the principle of self-regulation and we do this by ensuring that we meet one of our core objectives, which is fostering high standards and practices in the oil industry in collaboration with stakeholders, government, and regulatory agencies,” she said.

PIEA participated in the crafting of the subject standards and is the main channel through which legal and regulatory information is disseminated to members.

Extra facilities

The Kenya Bureau of Standards’ Petroleum facilities – Retail and Consumer outlets –specifications only allow tier two stations with land size of 1,500 metres squared and 24 metres from the front entry line to the back of the station (depth) to have extra facilities.

That size of land, which is known as a tier 2 station, can only host a car wash and lubrication bay but is not allowed to host eating facilities.

The smallest petrol station, which is tier 1, should have land size of 500 metres squared with a frontage of at least 22 metres, including a six- metre entry road and another six-metre exit road and are not allowed to have extra facilities such as a car wash.

Stations with land sizes of at least 2,200 metres squared and a depth of 69 metres with maximum storage of 80,000 litres from Tier 3 outlets.

Such a station can have an office block which may contain a convenience store, eating facility, banking hall and a maximum of three floors of multi-level office block.

“In cases where there is a multilevel building, adequate provisions for emergency fire escape and minimisation of noise and air pollution inside the buildings must be made,” the guidelines say.

Credit: Business Daily

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