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Fuel quantity check: We’re not usurping powers of state authorities – COPEC

The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers says it is not usurping the powers of regulatory agencies within the petroleum sector with its Fuel Quantity Checks (FQC) exercise.

COPEC, a civil society organization that represents the interests of petroleum consumers, said it believes it has the right to assess the quantity of fuel Ghanaians are served with if there are reasonable suspicions.

The Association of Oil Marketing Companies (AOMC) in a statement last week challenged the exercise being conducted by COPEC.

COPEC in a statement argued that the concerns of AOMC are “misplaced, unnecessary and smacks of an attempt to cover up for the few bad nuts engaged in the cheating Ghanaian fuel consumers.”

COPEC explained that the exercise was only to gather quality data and forward its report to the appropriate authorities for action.

COPEC also insisted that its exercise does not involve the imposition of regulatory sanctions, procedures or shutting down of Service stations who appear to clearly flout or adhere to the appropriate dispensing levels set by the Ghana Standards Authority.

“We strongly dismiss the supposed warning by the coordinator of AOMC in respect of the claim that the everyday consumer’s like ourselves to whom petroleum products are sold does not reserve any rights to assess the quantities that they purchase in the event that they have reasonable suspicions of under-delivery,” COPEC said.

Read the full statement below:

  1. To begin, the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers-Ghana (COPEC) like all other legally registered Civil Society Organization which has for the past six (6) years contributed very significantly to relevant policy, public and educational discussions on improving efficiency and effectiveness in the operations of the Downstream Petroleum Sector of Ghana is expected by its stakeholders and the public to provide the comforts of consumer protection and education. The organization does its work primarily through aggregation of issues, consultations and dialogue, education and articulation through public advocacy largely informed by findings from day to day and scientific research we also undertake periodically.
  2. COPEC, has worked hand in hand with both the public and regulatory bodies in helping improve basic standards in Ghana’s petroleum downstream sector. Contrary to the impression that was sought to be created by the coordinator of AOMCs in his releases last week, this is evidenced by the numerous reports and complaints COPEC-Ghana extends to both industry and the regulators of the downstream anytime we have come across anything untoward whiles we also duly recognize the efforts and hard work of the many good ones in the downstream through a periodic awards programme dubbed PETROLEUM CONSUMER AWARDS.
  3. COPEC does NOT in any way, need to usurp the functions and responsibilities of these regulatory bodies in order to carry out verification of complaints from our major stakeholders including the GPRTU and other private citizens, these first hand certifications are done with the view to allaying the fears of these consumers with complaints or further reports sent to the regulatory agencies for appropriate sanctions to be meted out to those clearly engaged in such acts of mass cheating and at no point do our officers hold themselves as regulators nor prescribe sanctions nor enforce same, so it beats regular thinking how anyone can confuse the roles of civil society in investigating complaints first hand with the view to report offenders for sanctions by regulatory agencies as conflicting with what regulators do which is applying sanctions and in some cases closing down of outlets when their inspections find anything untoward. Unless of course it is the contention of Coordinator, that no one can verify quantities being dispensed by service stations in the exception of regulators, which will go completely contrary to consumer rights which the industry itself has sought to protect everyone by providing a dispute resolution device known as the 10 litre can.
  4. The FQC is aimed at gathering relevant primary data vis-à-vis Petroleum Service Delivery in the country and does NOT in any shape or form involve the imposition of regulatory sanctions, procedures or shutting down of Service stations who appear to clearly flout or adhere to the appropriate dispensing levels set by the Ghana Standards Authority. The conception of this program was born out of the numerous complaints and intelligence we receive from the general public, notably Commercial Transport Operators as well as a section of the public including very distinguished industry players who seek the good of the Downstream Petroleum Sector.
  5. Furthermore, it should be noted that outcomes of our activities are in most cases reported to the appropriate regulatory institutions to follow up and confirm, affirm, or provide clarity on these reports as well as take appropriate actions if need be. Results from the FQC program provides a reasonable basis to initiate policy discussions in respect of what Government and regulatory bodies must do to assist Oil Marketing Companies to continuously improve in the market whiles observing acceptable standards in their operations with utmost consumer confidence assured. The overwhelming endorsement of the FQC program by both the public and the well-meaning section of OMCs who have received both favorable and not so favorable feedbacks from our field trips have been able to trace where some dealers play games with their brands against the unsuspecting public, for the avoidance of doubt, most companies have distanced from activities of a few greedy persons manning some of these outlets and have gone ahead to even sanction same from within following from some of our feedback thereby ensuring their customers do not receive any raw deals which benefits the perpetrators and not the company often times, and have strongly encouraged the continuing of this programme to enable everyone regain whatever confidence they have in the brands they serve. This opposition by the Coordinator to this well-meaning programme though not surprising due to recent developments in the downstream, the vehement opposition from the coordinator of AOMCs to this well-intended exercise and the watchdog role played by COPEC in the sector will be interrogated properly at another forum.
  6. The FQC program is one of our initiatives aimed at reliably informing and assisting both OMC managers and the consumers to make accurate decisions regarding Petroleum Service Providers who largely adhere to laid down standards by the regulatory bodies and those who clearly don’t. Under the Program, a technical team from COPEC and sometimes the media engages a limited number of fuel stations on spot quantity checks and assessment. The team competently and professionally discharge this duty of examining only dispensing levels using the approved 10-liter Can (ntiasekuruwa ) by the GSA with no discomfort whatsoever to fuel stations who are by conventions supposed to keep a 10 litre at the forecourts at all times for checking by everyday consumers who have doubts as to what is being served, this 10 litre can is not for regulators but everyday consumers and such it becomes very difficult to understand the apprehension by the coordinator on this harmless fact checking exercise unless of course there is something else he knows or has discussed behind the regulatory expectations of Ghanaians which we all do not know about and must be told or educated of same.
  7. We strongly dismiss the supposed warning by the coordinator of AOMC in respect of the claim that the everyday consumer’s like ourselves to whom petroleum products are sold does not reserve any rights to assess the quantities that they purchase in the event that they have reasonable suspicions of under-delivery. It is increasingly obvious that the coordinator of AOMCs is clearly not aware of the daily complaints across the country from some specific retail outlets within the country, this may also, therefore, explain why he makes the sidesplitting argument that all retail outlets are conforming to the prescribed standards as expected, even in the of the display 10-liter cans to assist consumers who are not satisfied with fuel being dispensed, whiles a good number readily offer this 10 litre can others clearly do not and will not budge no matter how much a consumer pushes to have the levels dispensed to them verified. It is important for the AOMC to explain to the general public the essence of the need to display the 10-liter Cans at fuel stations if ordinary consumers or entities cannot demand its usage to determine the accuracy of quantities they are served.
  8. COPEC by this statement, is reiterating our resolve to enhance and make the FQC program more rigorous until such a time we can confidently say every Ghanaian consumer anywhere can be able to buy fuel from any of the over 3000 retail outlets dotted across the country without any fear whatsoever of being cheated in any way and will not be intimidated by such uninformed baseless warnings from the Coordinator unless of course he would want us to also fortnightly publish all such complaints received without any avenues for confirming or otherwise, any consumer suspicions of the few bad outlets engaged in this enterprise of short changing the unsuspecting public, our motives as always are without malice but rather in the ultimate interest of the public (both lettered and unfettered) and OMCs. We have and will consistently engage relevant stakeholder bodies including the AOMC itself on issues that bother on, fuel pricing, quality and quantities being served, security and sanctity of the Downstream Petroleum Sector.

COPEC will continue to operate this open-door policy with the expectation that any entity or individual who seek to understand our operations may come forward without hesitations. To end, we will request of the Coordinator the AOMC to desist from these unfortunate retributions as such conduct gives him and the few others seeking to resist civil society organizations and anyone else seeking first-hand information on how much consumers receive for their fuel purchases, away as an Organization that appears to condone and conceal the few PSPs who may be engaged in these unacceptable activities of deliberate under-delivery with the aim to short-changing Fuel Consumers and deprive them from obtaining value for money.

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