GIKONDO - Police in Gikondo are holding eight people accused of conducting illegal diesel business. The suspects, who are detained at Gikondo Police Station, include four women and four men.
The police station commander, Inspector Celestin Gatamba, said yesterday that the group was arrested over the weekend.
“We arrested them after a tip from a member of the public that there were some people engaged in fuel black market,” Gatamba said.
He added that 36 jerrycans (720 litres) were impounded from Gatenga, while about 2,000 litres were found at a garage of one Anathole Nsengimana’s in Gikondo, Kicukiro District in Kigali City.
Besides Nsengimana, 43, other arrested suspects are Beatrice Mukamana, 36, Esperance Mukanyenga 35, Jacqueline Byukusenge, 21, Francois Twayigize, 37, Jean Claude Mbarubukeye, 84, and Joel Ndayisaba, 30.
Some of the suspects have been buying diesel from people who stole it, and later sell it to the public at a lower price.
Seven of them are from Gatenga, and are accused of having bought fuel from truck drivers en route to Magerwa (bonded warehouse) at a low price and re-sell it at a relatively lower price at the expense of legal traders.
Nsengimana also connives with government and private drivers who reportedly empty their vehicles and request for more fuel.
Gatamba said that such black market has been ongoing for long but of late, it increased significantly due to fuel shortages in the country, and the region at large.
The crisis was sparked by the current post-election violence in Kenya, which has dealt a huge blow to a number of businesses in the region.
Gatamba further noted that some people had started buying fuel from petrol stations and take them to their homes; a practice he said was illegal.
He said that police has stepped up efforts to curb such malpractices.
Twenty-one-year-old Byukusenge said that she had been dealing in the illegal business for three months now. She said that she knew it was illegal but she had no alternative since her family was surviving on that business. She said she used to buy a jerrycan of diesel at Frw5, 000 and sell at Frw6, 000.
With a litre of diesel going for Frw670 (retail price), a jerrycan is normally at Frw13, 400.
Byukusenge said that she could get fuel from drivers of different trucks from different countries.
“We would then re-sell it vehicles which parked near our home,” she added.
However, Nsengimana denied selling diesel, saying that trucks which usually park in his garage at night are emptied to prevent thugs from stealing it.
“I keep the security of both the vehicles and the diesel. The system of empting started recently because of fuel shortage,” he claimed.
Gatamba said that the culprits will be charged with theft. The Commerce ministry recently banned buying fuel with jerrycans.