The Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) has cautioned Batswana against selling gas licenses to foreigners as well fronting for them in the industry.
Speaking during a consultative meeting in Maun recently, BERA commercial manager, Batsumi Rankokwane expressed concern that the decision undermines government’s efforts to empower locals. He indicated that the gas business is reserved for Batswana as they could easily meet the requirements to run them.
However, Rankokwane revealed that from over 100 licenses issued to Batswana only less than 10 of them are operated by locals while the rest are in the hands of foreigners. He noted that Batswana have the tendency to acquire these licenses and later issue them to foreigners to run such businesses.
Furthermore, he revealed that they have also observed that many people have been operating the gas business without licenses, adding that the unregulated gas businesses made it difficult for them to carry out investigations in the event of incidents that require their intervention.
That as it may, Rankokwane said these occurrences have been going on for some time, hence the decision to come up with a newly approved Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LGP) regulation which will come into effect in September this year.
He explained that the regulations, set by BERA, will guide activities related to LPG business such as wholesale, distribution, retail, storage, transportation and consumer installation.
Rankokwane has since encourage residents in Maun to venture into the gas businesses by applying for licenses which range from wholesale license, bulk transportation license, cylinder transportation, storage license as well as export license.
He indicated that requirements needed for one to afford these licenses are that; one should have a business plot, management plan from Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), skills or expertise as well as the funds.
Meanwhile, some of the attendees have welcomed the newly approved Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LGP) regulations adding that the regulations would help address some of the challenges affecting both the consumer and those in the gas business.
One of the residents, Tshematshe Monwela revealed that the regulations would hold gas operators accountable going forward as most consumers had always complained about the volume of gas, which they said, did not last.
Monwela indicated that the regulations would ensure safety and compliance, but he has urged BERA to also consider regulating handling of cylinder gases in open spaces such as malls and bus ranks. He said even though vendors are making ends meet by cooking food for sale in such places, the setup is risky as there may be fire outbreaks anytime.