By Richard Drasimaku
ARUA.March 3, 2021. Twenty years after an infamous scuffle between the fuel smugglers known as the Opec boys and the Uganda Revenue Authority enforcement backed by police and the army in the centre of Arua town, there was a near repeat of the scene on Tuesday evening.
Residents and traders scumbered as the enforcement personnel emptied their magazines by firing bullets incessantly in the air to create an exit from Lobidra market through the town streets to the URA storage.
An unidentified officer was reportedly injured by a stone thrown by the smugglers who had gone to hide 30 jerrycans of fuel on six motorcycles all of which were impounded.
“Our concern in yesterday’s operation was the life of the people. Petrol is highly inflammable. If that fuel caught fire it would have been a total disaster. We wanted to prevent that market from becoming a hideout for smuggled fuel,” Ivan Kakaire, in charge of operations in the West Nile region explained.
The smugglers carried the fuel from Ariwara market in Eastern DR Congo which is then sold in cans at prices be sh400 to sh500 lower than at petrol stations.
With many petrol station operators complaining that the return of the Opec boys has seriously affected their businesses, Kakaire cautioned motorists against the dangers of using uncertified fuel saying it could damage the engine of their vehicles and motorcycles if adulterated.
However some motorists insist that the fuel at petrol stations is overpriced due to the bad taxation policy of the government.
Since an operation to routout fuel smuggling in Arua City was stepped up a month ago, 14,310 litres of petrol and 560 litres of diesel have been impounded and auctioned at a total of sh38,935,000.