The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers, COPEC, has justified its decision to check the amount of fuel dispensed to consumers at various fuel stations.
The Association of Oil Marketing Companies, OMCs, has criticized the act accusing COPEC of usurping the powers of the National Petroleum Authority, NPA, and the Ghana Standards Authority, GSA, which are mandated to ensure that OMCs expense the right amount of fuel for any purchase.
But COPEC maintains that its actions have in the past led to some defaulting OMCs being fined, which in turn ensured value for money to consumers.
According to COPEC, its occasional checks at fuel stations forms part of its role as a civil society organization interested in promoting the interest of consumers.
Some of the unannounced visits have been to check whether fuel stations use the 10 litre dispensing fuel machine, or ‘ntease3 kruwa’ which is expected to be placed at visible points at various pumps.
In an interview with Citi Business News, Chief Executive Officer of COPEC, Duncan Amoah, said their work is necessary as some OMCs have been cited for continually cheating consumers.
“We have had situations where a law has been sanctioned, but it doesn’t deter them at all. There is still a lot that the GSA fined people for even as of Friday. And so, we also have to go out there and be sure that they are delivering the right amounts, especially when we have had complaints from the ‘trotro’ and taxi drivers. It behooves us to double check, and where we find that indeed the volumes they are dispensing to everybody is not good enough, I trust that we will also forward these complaints to the Standards Authority to apply the necessary sanctions on these outlets.
“Until we get to a point where every Ghanaian everywhere is able to buy fuel without the fear and possibility of being shortchanged, it will not be in the bosom of anybody to tell Ghanaians not to ask for the verification of quantity at the fuel stations. It it within our rights per the law and we will continue to do this,” he said.
Among the arguments put forward by the Association of Oil Marketing Companies is the fact that the organizations mandated to carry out this task are the National Petroleum Authority, NPA, and the Ghana Standards Authority, and not COPEC.
According to them, NPA usually checks the quantity of petroleum products sold to consumers, while the GSA handles all issues related to weights and measures which include checking the accurate measurement of fuel dispensing pumps.
Asked whether COPEC was doing this to complement the efforts of the two state agencies that are often under-resourced in terms of personnel, this was Mr. Duncan Amoah’s response.
“We would want to believe the regulators do their work, but we can only augment their efforts. We would not just drive to a station and demand the amount of fuel dispensed. But if we have reasonable grounds to believe or suspect that a particular OMC is engaged in the business of shortchanging people, we will also want to look into it to ensure the right thing is done,” he explained.
Mr. Duncan Amoah believes measures to review the sanctions meted out to defaulting OMCs should help in ensuring that consumers get value for money.
“There is only one understanding that when they are fined, they pay and when the regulators exit, the bad operators revert to the old ways of cheating consumers. It is for these OMCs that those who are buying fuel should demand the ten litre can anytime they have reasonable suspicion.”