The Federal Government says it has begun the clampdown on the use of faulty and altered equipment by filling stations and other businesses to cheat customers.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Adeniyi Adebayo, said this on Saturday in Port Harcourt at a two-day sensitisation workshop organised for stakeholders in the downstream oil and gas industry.
Adeniyi, who was represented by Mr Gbolahan Adamoh, Head of Oil and Gas, Department of Weight and Measures, in the ministry, said that government was aware of such illicit practice by some service providers.
The minister said that Weights and Measures department of his ministry was the lead agency mandated by the Federal Government to enforce accurate use of weighing and measuring equipment by businesses across the country.
According to him, the department has discovered that many businesses, such as filling stations, recalibrate their meters and equipment to cheat their customers.
“So, we decided to meet with critical stakeholders in the downstream oil and gas sector and engage them on the need to maintain accurate measurement by their meters, while serving their customers.
“We want customers to get full value for their money, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the nation’s economy and made things difficult for Nigerians.
“We want a litre of fuel to be a litre, and kilogramme of whatever grain to be a kilogramme; so that Nigerians can get their monies worth,” he said.
Adebayo said that any business operator found to be using faulty and recalibrated equipment to defraud unsuspecting customers would be severely sanctioned.
He said that such individuals would have their filling stations and businesses sealed off and they would be made to pay huge sums of money as fine or face jail term.
“We appeal to filling station operators and other business owners to visit our offices for verification and proper certification of their equipment.
“The department is committed to protecting both the producers and consumers through fair and balanced trade transactions,” he added.
Adebayo told participants at the workshop that the permissible “tolerance level” for shortfalls remained 60 milligrammes for 20 litres of fuel and 30 milligrammes for 10 litres; different from the tolerance level provided by other government regulators.
He warned the stakeholders against the use of other measuring scales, reiterating that weight and measures department was the only body backed by law to regulate measuring scale in the country.
One of the participants, Sunny Nkpe, the Zonal Chairman, System 2E of Petroleum Products Retail Outlet Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN), called for more collaboration and synergy between the oil retailers and the ministry.
He said that the association was worried about the different “error allowance” approved by the Weight and Measures department, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON).
“Our concern is that DPR approved maximum of 300 milligrammes per 10 litres as error allowance for fuel, while weights and measures department, on the other hand, says don’t exceed 30 milligrammes.
“So, we want the Federal Government to resolve this conflict.
“We want to know whose function it is to regulate weights and measures and the approved measuring scale to run lawful business,” he said.
Mr Francis Dimkpa, the branch Chairman of PETROAN in Rivers, said that the association would soon invite all regulating agencies and security agencies to a meeting to ensure harmony in the industry.