The Chief Executive of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Dr. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid has indicated that petroleum service providers that indulge in fuel adulteration deprive consumers of value for money at the retail outlets and also cause damage to engines of vehicles and machinery.
According to him, fuel adulteration increases emission of harmful compounds such as Carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds that affect air quality and the environment.
Dr. Abdul-Hamid was addressing stakeholders at this year's Consumer Week Celebration which was held under the theme: “Adulterated Fuels: A Menace To The Consumer And The Economy,” in Ho of the Volta Region.
The NPA Boss said the effects go a long way to affect the health of the workforce, harms the reputation of a fuel retailer’s brand and cost government millions of Cedis in revenue each year.
He averred that the petroleum downstream industry has always been about striking the right balance between the industry players which are petroleum service providers, and consumers.
Dr Abdul-Hamid pointed out that, in as much as the industry wants profitability, the consumer wants value for their money hence none of them must occur at the expense of the other.
"It is for this reason that the regulator (NPA) was established to innovate and adopt strategies to ensure that the industry remains efficient and profitable but at the same time consumers receive value for money," he said.
He stressed however that, fuel adulteration is a global problem and in Ghana, it has been a challenge to both the industry and regulators.
According to the Chief Executive, in a bid to tackle the problem of petroleum product adulteration, innovative strategies have been adopted, primarily aimed at improving upon the quality of petroleum products to ensure fuel supplied at final dispensing outlets is of the right quality specification to consumers.
He said, "Among the key strategies are the revision of operating procedures in the importation, exportation, and production of fuels by petroleum service providers (PSPs) and the introduction of Petroleum Product Marking Scheme (PPMS) and Bulk Road Vehicle (BRV) tracking system to ensure that products are devoid of adulteration and meet the required specification along the supply chain."
He mentioned that as a result of the stringent measures instituted, the retail outlet failure rate has reduced drastically from 32% as of 2013 to 2.51% as of August, 2021.
"We are poised to wipe out these 2.51% culprits still cheating petroleum consumers. This is why we are here today, to tell consumers to report to the NPA anytime there is suspicion of the purchase of contaminated fuel.
There are laws that provide punitive sanctions such as fines, imprisonment, or both for the perpetrators of these fuel quality crimes," he said.
The Minister of Energy, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh in a speech read on his behalf urged consumers of petroleum products to desist from buying from tabletop sellers.
“And to our drivers here who like to buy fuel from our tabletop dealers; what is known to be 'gao-gao,' in this Municipality probably because it's cheaper than what’s sold at the filling station, please note that you are rather damaging your car engines and you will spend more to fix your cars at the mechanic shop than buying the quality products from the fuel stations,” he cautioned.
The Volta Regional Minister, Dr. Archibald Yao Letsa said the effects of bad fuels are many and that contaminated fuels cause engines to malfunction and come at extra cost to the consumer to restore damaged engines.
Such fuels, he said also generate toxic fumes that pollute the air and are harmful to the health of the people.
According to him, putting in place such a programme to stem the trend is welcome news.
He also said that a section of the petroleum industry that indulges in adulteration cheats the consumer out of what they are paying for, harms the reputation of a fuel retailer’s brand and cost government millions of cedis in revenue each year.
He encouraged all stakeholders not to see the theme as a single duty of the NPA but rather embrace it as a collective responsibility.
He charged all to report any suspicion of contaminated fuel either at the pump or in their cars.
Dr. Archibald Letsa also commended NPA for creating a platform to exchange views and educate the petroleum consumer on petroleum products usage.
This Consumer Week is intended to be observed every year to educate the public on petroleum products usage as well as increase the knowledge of the consuming public on the rights and responsibilities.