FIRE, POWER OUTAGES AND PIPELINE CONTAMINATION THE CAUSE OF FUEL SHORTAGES
Oil company executives have been struggling to offer a believable explanation over the lack of jet fuel at Entebbe International Airport earlier in the week, when airlines were forced into costly diversions of scheduled flights in order to secure enough fuel to reach their final destination.
Following a harshly critical piece written here, some sources within the oil sector, wishing not to be named what else does one expect really claimed the article was overly critical but upon intense repeated questioning had to conceded that indeed the aviation fuel suppliers had repeatedly failed to delivery sufficient quantities of AVGAS in the past for reasons of internal logistics while still being unable to explain the discrepancy in pricing between Kenya and Uganda, which aviation sources call monopolistic exploitation, racketeering and profiteering.
The sources cited a lack of pumping activity on the pipeline between Mombasa and Nairobi, following theft of electricity equipment by vandals, again a repeat situation leaving the security precautions of the Kenya Pipeline Company and the Kenya Power and Lighting Company under intense scrutiny. In addition the pipeline between Nairobi and Eldoret, the present pipeline head and point of delivery for tankers from Uganda, South Sudan, Eastern Congo, Rwanda and Burundi and even Western Tanzania, was reportedly contaminated due to an error in feeding non compatible products into the pipeline, which now requires a major cleanup and is forcing importers from Uganda and the hinterland countries to load fuel from Nairobi. There however a fire broke out again in a pumping station, not far from the devastating fire and explosion causes by leaks a few weeks ago, when over 100 people died in the inferno just outside Nairobi. One source said: It is a combination of all these factors, mostly that we were caught unaware that fuel needed loading in Nairobi, which delayed deliveries. The process is lengthy to divert tankers from Eldoret to Nairobi and the tax authorities have a lot of red tape for such changes. Fuel has started to trickle into Entebbe now again and we hope that the reserve tanks can slowly build up full capacity again.
This however did not explain why the reserves were allowed to run down to empty status in the first place and who was and is responsible in Uganda over the constant lack of AVGAS and the periodic shortages of Jet A1 fuel. One regular aviation source had this to add: They should stop looking for excuses. We are sick and tire of that. THEY are responsible for orders and timely supplies, and not only do they overprice here in Uganda but also time and again fail to have supplies in stock. It is pathetic and shows that in particular Shell needs an overhaul from top to bottom, a change of attitude.
Well, predictions for the New Year are that such incidents are likely to continue as arguments are raging over the wisdom to expand the fuel pipeline from Eldoret to Kampala, while the Ugandan government appears intent to create refining capacities here in Uganda to process our own crude oil, as and when that is being pumped, another saga which appears never ending and where one missed deadline chases the next missed deadline. Watch this space.