Business News of 2014-04-29

Fuel station scam: NPA threatens sanctions

The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) has warned that it will deal with any fuel retailer or distributor found to be short-changing consumers at the pump. The sanctions could include “imprisonment, fine or both,” the Authority said on Monday.
The regulator’s warnings were in response to a series of public complaints that some fuel retailers have been ripping off consumers.
During Monday’s edition of the Citi Breakfast Show, a flood of callers into Accra-based Citi 97.3 FM alleged various forms of malpractices against retailers operating within Ghana’s petroleum downstream industry.
Many of the callers accused a number of fuel stations of selling sub-standard petroleum products to customers.
Some of the callers alleged that they were shocked to learn that some fuel station owners have been ‘squeezing’ a few extra cedis out of customers’ pockets. One such caller from Navrongo said, “That’s what happens here in the Upper East Region. They blow in air and you’d think its fuel and before you know it’s finished. It’s not just the fuel alone, even gas. They have a way of manipulating it….”
Another caller from Sakumono, a suburb of Accra, also expressed his frustrations: “There is this particular filling station and when you say you want to buy 20 Ghana cedis, two attendants would come and [start a strange conversation with you] with you to divert your attention and by the time you realise they have [put] only 2 Ghana cedis [into the car] for you.”
“For a week, I use 30 cedis of fuel for my motorbike but for some time now even 40 Ghana cedis does not suffice for 3 days. There NPA should be serious and check these things because it is affecting us and our businesses,” said another caller.
In a swift response to the complaints, the NPA, which regulates the industry, said it already has measures in place to ensure all pumps across the country do not cheat customers.
The Authority said people who have qualms with the quantity or quality of fuel they buy at any gas station must report to the proper authorities for prompt action.
“There are specific standards that are indicated in our manuals and these standards must be followed strictly,” NPA Spokesperson, Yaro Kasambata said. “The Industry knows so if we come and you have fallen short of that quality standard sanctions apply”.
“Now, with the L.I that is backing this petroleum product marking scheme, it’s even making sure that the penalties are very punitive. You have imprisonment, fine or both depending on the gravity of the offense…”
He said, “It is in pursuance of the consumer satisfaction that the NPA has embarked on this program which we launched about two months ago to ensure that now onward we can even tell from time to time what the quality standard is”.