TANZANIA Revenue Authority (TRA) has embarked on a countrywide operation to shut down filling stations that are yet to fit electronic fiscal devices (EFDs) on their pumps contrary to the Authority’s directive.
The operation, which is now in its fourth day, has resulted in the closure of several filling stations in Dar es Salaam, Iringa, Dodoma, Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions, causing inconvenience to motorists and other buyers of petroleum products.
Last year TRA directed all owners and operators of filling stations in the country to fix EFD machines to the gasoline pump system. A survey conducted by this paper in the above mentioned regions showed that most operators of petrol stations in the country were yet to install the devices, thus attracting TRA’s wrath.
“The government is doing a good thing to close down filling stations which have not yet obeyed the order, but this has caused chaos to buyers…I had to spend over half an hour searching for fuel,”, said Athumani Mubarak.
He said it would be wiser for the Authority to devise alternative methods of collecting revenue from the pump station operators instead of closing down their businesses.
In Arusha, those who drove to gas stations wishing to fill their tanks were greeted by TRA tapes slapped around the pumps. In Ngulelo area some irate motorists were left stranded after they found all petrol stations out of operation.
"I left home with little fuel knowing I would refuel here, but now I shall be forced to hop on a bodaboda to find petrol elsewhere," lamented Jacob Mollel, a businessman based in Arusha.
According to Mollel, the crackdown had caught most of Arusha residents unawares, blaming the gas station owners for their misfortune.
Without mentioning the number of closed down petrol stations in Dar es Salaam, TRA Director of Taxpayers Services and Education Richard Kayombo told the Guardian that the Authority expected to conduct a similar operation for traders not using EFDs.
“We agreed with owners and petrol station operators that they should fix an EFD at each fuel pump but they failed to obey the order,” he said.
According to him, the government gave filling stations a grace period of three months from July to September last year to implement the order.
Arusha TRA Regional Manager Apili Mbaruku said that at least 40 filling stations in four districts in the region had already been closed down for failing to abide by the government order, adding that Arusha city alone had at least 25 filling station closed down.
Speaking on a special programme with a television station yesterday, a Tanzania Petrol Station Operators Association (TAPSOA) official said they had not refused to obey the government order, pointing out that the machines were expensive and so they needed more time to install them.
The TAPSOA chairperson explained that they had already agreed with the government on the price of the devices and they were in the process of implementing the directive.
“We are surprised to see the government beginning to close down our businesses even as we have agreed to fix the EFDs on the pumps,” he said.