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Illegal fuel harms cars, retailers - Govt

2022-04-28  John Muyamba

Illegal fuel harms cars, retailers - Govt

RUNDU - The Ministry of Mines and Energy has warned that the illegal trade of fuel in northern Namibia could harm cars and the fuel retail market, which will result in the closure of service stations and loss of employment.

On the other hand, the impact flowing from the smuggling of fuel is significant to the country’s economy as it leads to revenue leakage and loss of local market.

“Fuel smuggling is an illegal activity of bringing petroleum products into the country without duly reporting the consignment to customs officials, thereby evading tax and fuel levies due to government. It also disadvantages Namibian fuel retailers as they now have to compete, in terms of sales volumes, with illegal fuel from outside the country,” stated the ministry’s spokesperson Andreas Simon.

The smuggled fuel is also stored in dangerous containers, posing danger to the environment, and is sold in a manner that poses a health hazard to the people.

“Service station owners in Oshikango provide employment opportunities to locals. If they are competing with smuggled fuel, which is, as expected, cheaper, they will be driven out of the market, adding further damage to the already slow-moving economy of Oshikango,” he emphasised.

Due to recent steep fuel price increases, vehicle owners have been flocking to the Namibian border town of Oshikango as well as other border towns and villages to fill up their tanks. Some have exploited the situation, and are selling illegally-imported fuel to a rapidly growing market. 

“Any fuel-related undertakings performed in contradiction of the law should be reported to law- enforcement agencies to safeguard our cars and the fuel retailing market,’’ Simon continued.

To answer the question why Angolan fuel is dangerous to vehicles, he said using untested fuel in cars compromises their performance, especially if the sulphur content in the fuel is higher than what is prescribed by the car manufacturer.

“This matter has been dealt with extensively in the past to state that Angolan fuel does not meet the gazetted Namibian fuel specifications, and is therefore illegal,” Simon stressed.

New Era also spoke to the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA), who clarified why the fuel is being confiscated by the authorities. 

Spokesperson Tonateni Shidhudhu said what is happening at the Angola-Namibia borders is prohibited in terms of Section 123 of the Customs and Excise Act, 1998, which gives NamRA the power to confiscate such illegally-imported goods. The records show that the quantities of fuel imported in recent days are substantial.

“The fuel is being confiscated because of the illegal manner in which it is being brought into Namibia, which does not comply with the applicable laws and regulations,” Shidhudhu said.

“Once confiscated, the fuel is being taken to the Ministry of Mines and Energy’s depot at Ondangwa to ensure that the commodity is disposed of the right manner,” he noted.

Shidhudhu further said NamRA will continue to facilitate legitimate trade at the borders to protect the economy as empowered by law, and will continue to work with other law-enforcement agencies such as the Namibian Police to counter the smuggling of fuel into the country. 

“We would like to urge the public not to engage in such illegal practices. We further encourage the public to contact the nearest NamRA office or for any questions regarding the importation, exportation and payment of duties and taxes,” he added.

2022-04-28  John Muyamba

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