Fuel trafficking in Cameroon: A well organised disorder

Feb 18, 2009 01:00 AM

by Lukong Pius Nyuylime

The Nsam tragedy, in which a leaking fuel tanker exploded killing over 200 people in the process of extracting free fuel, has not stopped adventures in petrol smuggling business for higher gains. It is difficult to state with precision how many actors involved in the business draw in terms of profit, but the business has almost completely defied all legal and repressive measures aimed at phasing out the practice.
The smuggling takes several forms, some of which include: destroying sealed tankers, extracting fuel from train wagons and mixing of fuel with other products.

Destroying stickers
This is one of the commonest smuggling devices used on big cities. Tankers get loaded at the Petrol depot or at SONARA, then transport the product to the city where the stickers on the tanker leads are removed. Some of the fuel is then extracted and mixed with kerosene to increase the quantity.
In Yaounde, this activity takes place around the SCDP depot in the Nsam neighbourhood in Yaounde not far from the area of tragedy. The signs are there. In fact, the area, a big open building at the entrance to the Cocoa Development Authority, is littered with remnants plastic stickers removed from tanks.

Extracting from train tanks
Several litres of fuel are extracted every time trains transporting the product are stationed. Smugglers use all sorts of containers to drain fuel from the tanks. They will carefully loiter around the train, usually during odd hours and wind open the tank leads for fuel to flow out.
Of course, once such fuel is in the black market, is sells like hot cake not because it is of higher quality but because it is sold at cheaper rates.

Mixing with kerosene
This is a long standing practice. Authorities of the Ministry of Energy and Water have on several occasions sealed pumping stations identified with the act. In effect, the exercise consists in getting fuel, usually of "super" quality and mixing it with kerosene to increase the quantity.
The control brigade of MINEE has had to track down culprits transporting several 40-litre gallons full of kerosene to mix with fuel just from SONARA. Once this has been done, it is pumped into the tank at the petrol station for consumption.

Source / Cameroon Tribune
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