Cooking gas distributors have been put under notice amid concerns that some could be engaging in malpractices that expose users to danger.
Dealers said the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) had imposed strict restrictions on the transportation of gas cylinders, which have forced transporters to seek special authorisation.
Operators with general goods transport licenses are not allowed to ferry gas cylinders without additional licenses.
The agency has also forbidden transportation of gas cylinders on motorcycles, bicycles or in a horizontal position in vehicles.
RURA is understood to be acting after public concerns over gas leaks and explosions, which have largely been blamed on poor handling of cylinders.
“The implications of the rules are that even individual car owners with goods transport licences will not be allowed to ferry gas cylinders.
We don’t understand the rationale of being required to apply for additional licences when one is only hired to deliver the cylinders to a certain location,” said Leon Gakuba, a transport operator.
Safety concerns were raised following increasing cases of cooking gas accidents especially in Gisozi, a Kigali City outskirt where a gas explosion resulted in deaths and injuries of people as well as damage to property.
It is not yet clear what caused the explosion as investigations are yet to be concluded. However, the incident sparked fears at a time when use of gas in households had started rising especially in urban areas.
Efforts to get an interview with officials at RURA did not materialise by press time. But the agency has questioned the safety of cylinders stored or transported in a horizontal position, insisting the devices should be upright at all times.
RURA also ordered dealers to keep gas cylinders in areas that are adequately ventilated and away from sources of heat.
Consumers have been urged to ensure cylinder valves and accessories are in good condition and properly closed to avoid leakages.
“After cooking, it is essential that you check if the cylinder is safely stored away from any sources of heat and its valve well closed,” read a notice issued by RURA in the wake of the incident.
Dealers who spoke to Rwanda Today cited the general lack of awareness about the safe use and installation of gas cylinders in the market.
Retail distribution of LPG in the country is largely carried out by service stations, independent distributors and supermarkets who buy directly from wholesalers who import the devices.
RURA’s 2017/2018 assessment shows demand for LPG importation rose to 10 million kilograms.