To-date Abdullatif Juma Atiku, the local council chairman of Oli B cell in Arua city has not forgotten the incident in which his house got burnt in December 2021.
The source of the fire was said to be activities of children vending petrol smuggled from neighboring countries of Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
“Those boys who call themselves opec, they used to sell fuel on my veranda. I could chase them but the moment they don’t see me around they come back to sell the petrol in jerry cans. Unfortunately, one of them was an active smoker of the marijuana and the petrol caught fire burning my house,” Atiku recalled.
With security agencies revealing numerous porous points along Uganda’s border with neighboring DR Congo and South Sudan, the fuel smuggling business is flourishing on the streets of West Nile districts.
These include Adjumani, Moyo, Yumbe, Koboko, Maracha, Arua city, Arua district, Zombo, Nebbi and Pakwach district.
This prompted a regional stakeholder’s engagement on how to resolve the illegal business and the stakeholders unanimously agreed to end the vice.
Alice Akello, Arua resident city commissioner, who chaired this regional meeting noted that fuel vending by children contravenes the labor laws of the country and it is causing insecurity.
“The issue of fuel is now a pain on our neck, it has become a security concern. Children aged between five and twelve are the ones selling fuel on the roadside. We’ve done everything to abolish this but we have failed,” Akello explained
According to Uganda Revenue Authority, at least sh366b in revenue was lost between September and December 2022 due to fuel smuggling as genuine fuel dealers were not realizing business.
The Petroleum Supply Act of 2003 provides for the supervision and monitoring of the importation, exportation, transportation, processing, supply, storage, distribution, and, marketing of petroleum products in containers in the country.
Tom Olinga, Koboko Resident District Commissioner, commended the move to conduct operations on the illegal business operations specifically on fuel, noting that the issue of illegal sale of fuel on the streets and other undesignated places in West Nile has portrayed a bad image of the region from all comers.
Abel Kagumire the commissioner in charge of customs said that at least 9,600 litters of fuel is smuggled into Uganda through the porous borders in West Nile.
He said this is causing the country to lose an estimated sh5 billion annually or over sh13.72m daily.
According to the Ministry of Energy, Uganda consumes 6 million liters of fuel daily. However, there has been a 10 percent monthly decline representing 20 million liters in the consumption of fuel, which according to URA has negatively affected the importation volumes.