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KES 10M Fine For Illegal Gas as Enforcement of New Rules Starts

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Selling cooking gas without a receipt will from tomorrow attract a fine of Sh50, 000 as the grace period for implementation of tough regulations aimed at curbing illegal trading in Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) lapses.

The receipt will have to include the name and telephone number of the seller, contacts of the consumer, cylinder brand, date of sale as well as serial numbers of the seal and gas container.

The new rules are aimed at tracking the cylinder from the retailer to homes, with the records expected to be stored for at least one year.

The fresh regulations, which received parliamentary approval mid this year, will also demand that oil marketers provide an insurance cover for each cylinder for compensation in case of accidents.

Penalties for illegal gas refilling have been increased more than tenfold to a minimum of Sh10 million in the fresh drive for safety and to protect oil dealers.

This is an upgrade of the 2009 rules that provided a penalty of not more than Sh1 million or jail term of less than one year.

The rules also provide for a Sh10 million fine for those discharging bulk gas in a location that lacks regulatory approval.

The tough regulations were published in the Kenya Gazette in June and offered dealers a six-month transition period during which authorities were restricted from making arrests on the basis of the new rules.

The regulator– Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA)—says a new enforcement unit has been established to crack down on offenders.

“EPRA has an established Directorate of Enforcement and Consumer Protection that is represented in five regional offices in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri and Eldoret to enforce the regulations,” EPRA Director-General Pavel Oimeke told the Business Daily in an interview.

“The directorate will work with the National Police Service as well as the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) to ensure that only legitimately filled LPG cylinders are being sold at retail level,” he added.

Besides the penalties, Mr Oimeke stated that traders who fail to issue receipts will also face suspension of their operating licences.

The proposed regulations have attached different fines for the breaches including a fine of more than Sh1 million for selling gas without permits or transporting the commodity in a vehicle not approved by the energy regulator.

The new rules also cap the number of cylinders that can be transported in a car to three unless regulatory exemptions are issued in a fresh attempt to curb those dealing in illegal refills and selling the commodity at a discount of up to 25 percent.

Marketers will be expected to be in a position to track cylinders by use of Radio Frequency Identification or quick response code or any other appropriate technology under the tightened regulations.

The dealers will also be required to maintain a list of its authorised filling agents, wholesalers, retailers and cylinder requalification agents, serial numbers or quick response codes and date of requalification for each cylinder.

Wholesalers who fail to keep gas cylinder records for more than year will face a fine of Sh50,000 for each offence.

The records must include the serial number of each cylinder, date of purchase, weight of each cylinder and name of retailer buying the cylinders.

EPRA says it has hired a private compliance inspector to monitor retailers who will breach the regulations.

Illegal possession of LPG seals without the cylinder brand owner’s authority will see those caught fork out Sh20,000 for each seal.

Independent gas dealers lobby–Energy Dealers Association (EDA)—has sought for another six months extension for implementation of the regulations, arguing that only 10 percent of their members are ready to operate under the new tough rules.

“We are asking for an extension of six months because even some multinational petrol stations are not licensed. We do not know if we will be allowed to operate and how they will enforce the regulations if they claim we are operating illegally,” said Peter Macharia, EDA chairman.

The stepping up of the fight against illegal LPG dealers comes in a period when gas prices are trading at levels last seen in 2016 before the government removed value-added tax (VAT) on the clean fuel.

The cost of refilling a 13-kg gas cylinder at petrol stations has increased to about Sh2,200.

Prices stood at an average Sh2,231 in June 2016 and dropped to below Sh2,000 in October, four months after the scrapping of the 16 percent VAT.

The Treasury scrapped the tax on gas to cut costs and boost uptake among poor households that rely on dirty kerosene and charcoal for cooking.

Rising prices have egged on illegal dealers who offer a discount.

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Health Insurance Firms Reject Exaggerated Nairobi Women’s Hospital Bills

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Health insurers will not honour future bills from the Nairobi Women’s Hospital, officials said on Tuesday, in a move likely to worsen the woes of the facility currently fighting claims of cost inflation.

Mr Tom Gichuhi, the Association of Kenya Insurers (AKI) chief executive said that the underwriters held a meeting on Monday evening and resolved to take the drastic measure.

“Medical insurance underwriters met and resolved not to deal with the facility in future. By Tuesday it had not been actualised, but I am certain that it will happen,” he said. A communication manager in at aninsurance firm who wished to remain anonymous said that patients currently admitted at the hospital would not be affected.

The news comes after the hospital’s board of directors issued a statement saying it had commenced an internal investigation into claims that its doctors force patients to undertake unnecessary procedures.

The board said it was also cooperating with the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Council, which is also conducting an independent investigation.

“We have noted with a lot of concern reports appearing in various media platforms suggesting that there is some systematic approach by the hospital to unfairly generate revenue from patients.

“Although we don’t believe this is the case, and in fact it is antithetical to our foundational principles, we take these allegations very seriously and are conducting an internal review as well as cooperating with the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Council as they carry out their independent review.”

The medical council CEO, Dr Eva Njenga said that they would reveal their findings within a month.

Leaked WhatApp chats appear to show how the hospital bosses set daily targets for the number of patients who should be admitted. They show that the revenue, commissions, admissions and discharge numbers were allegedly being actively monitored hourly, every day, and day and night by chief executive officer, Dr Felix Wanjala.

To do this, the CEO recommended that his team, based at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital branch in Nakuru (called Nakuru Hyrax) should “start with looking for referrals”, not miss “any opportunity (to admit)”, and be “very vigilant in casualty”.

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Uhuru Opens Cement Factory in Nakuru to create 1,000 Jobs

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Simba Cement Factory in Nakuru

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday presided over the opening of a Ksh.5.8 billion cement factory in Salgaa, Nakuru County that is set to change the economy of the area.

The Simba Cement factory that will create 700 direct jobs is set to boost the construction sector by enhancing availability of cement at affordable prices. The factory is still being expanded and will employ a further 300 Kenyans by June this year bringing the total direct jobs created to 1000.

Speaking to area residents, employees and invited guests, the President urged companies involved in the construction industry to leverage on the low cement prices offered by the processor to expand their enterprises and assured that the Government is keen on attracting more factories to the region.

Devki Group Chairman Narendra Raval said his factory is selling cement at Ksh.530 in Nakuru and its environs down from Ksh.750.

President Kenyatta said Salgaa is already home to four factories and attributed to the changing fortunes of the area to Devolution, saying areas that were previously considered economically barren are now new centres of growth.

He said the Government will continue to support investments that utilise local resources to create wealth and employment opportunities for Kenyans across the country.

“My administration will support value addition, extraction industries and manufacturing and we will continue supporting investments targeting the economic base of each county,” the President assured.

The Head of State said the Government will keep investing in capacity building for local industries to enable them get a share of the ever expanding international market for Kenyan products.

Petroleum and Mining Cabinet Secretary John Munyes said the demand for cement is very high in the country and also in the region especially in South Sudan and Southern Ethiopia.

CS Munyes noted that Kenya is endowed with huge reserves of limestone and other raw materials used in the manufacture of cement and called for more private sector investments in the sector.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui said Salgaa is transforming into an industrial hub adding that the County Government was in the process of zoning it off as an industrial area.

Devki Group chairman said the Salgaa cement factory has an installed processing capacity of 750,000 metric tonnes annually. He said plans are underway to double the installed capacity going forward.

As part of the cement processor’s corporate socially responsibility, the Devki Group announced that they are supporting Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) to construct a cancer centre at a cost of Shs 300 million and donated Shs 100 million to KNH officials.

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Kenyan woman, 26, sets up country’s first digital car insurance company

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Jihan Abass, founder and CEO of Griffin Insurance, speaks during an interview with Reuters as they prepare to release their flagship digital-only car insurance company, in Nairobi, Kenya January 24, 2020.

Jihan Abass, a 26-year-old Kenyan woman, often walks into meetings full of puzzled faces as people crane past her looking for the boss of her new digital motor insurance company.

“They would be surprised to see that it was actually me,” said Abass from her bright office in Nairobi, where almost every wall is covered in dry-erase marker scrawls.

Abass is founder and CEO of Griffin Insurance, which released its flagship mobile application on Friday. Griffin is Kenya’s first digital-only car insurance company, which lets customers pay in instalments and pause coverage if they travel abroad. Griffin will process claims in a week rather than the industry standard of 30 days, she said.

“It allows you to buy your insurance policy in less than two minutes,” said Abass.

In addition to the app, Abass’ 14-person team has another company, Lami, that sells the technology platform used to build Griffin so other businesses can use it to create their own digital insurance products.

Lami raised half a million dollars in seed funding and aims to close a further funding round by March.

Abass, who grew up wakeboarding in the Indian Ocean at the weekend, always wanted to work in business. After graduating from university in London in 2015 she became a sugar trader and was one of a handful of women in the business, just as she is now.

Nairobi, a technology hub nicknamed “Silicon Savannah,” has attracted many entrepreneurs from places like the United States and United Kingdom.

“A lot of the CEOs here are not only men, but also foreigners,” Abass said. “You don’t really see faces like mine.

NAIROBI (Reuters)

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