Ghana fuel stations using digitally controlled dispensers to short-change consumers

It has emerged that about 30 per cent of fuel stations in the country are using digitally controlled dispensers that are easy to adjust to alter the quantity of fuel dispensed to buyers.

This makes it easier for fuel attendants and their superiors to cheat unsuspecting consumers without tampering with the well-publicised security seals installed on the nozzles of fuel pumps, a highly placed source at the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) has confirmed.

Unfortunately, however, although the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) and the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) are aware of the phenomenon, they seem clueless for now as to the way forward, while some consumers continue to lose money.

The source explained that the fuel-dispensing pumps with digital adjustment settings ran on both manual and digital-operating systems and were imported into the country from Asia. The arrangement is the latest strategy by some unscrupulous oil marketing companies (OMCs) to dispense less fuel for the same amount without incurring the wrath of the GSA regulation, the source said.

“For these pumps, even after the security seals from GSA are installed after the verification exercise, they can use a remote control to adjust the flow without touching or tampering with our seals, with the intention of reducing the volume discharged and thereby cheating the customer,” the source said.

The source noted that the use of remote-controlled adjustments to alter the flow meters installed in pumps was against regulations which demanded fuel stations to seek authorisation from the GSA before any adjustments were made to their flow metres.

“Of the quantity delivered by a dispensing pump, the station has to seek authorisation to break the security seal first, and after the adjustments, the authority goes to re-verify and install a new seal,” the source explained.

In June this year, the GSA began the inspection of fuel-measuring and dispensing instruments in parts of the country after the first phase of its routine national fuel-measuring devices verification exercise. Inspectors from the Metrology Directorate carried out unannounced inspections of fuel pumps in randomly selected fuel stations in the Greater Accra, Ashanti, Central and Eastern regions.

The monitoring officers were to inspect and record if the fuel stations had the 10 L visual gauges to inspect and ensure that GSA plastic seals on dispensing pumps had not been tampered with, to lock the nozzles of dispensing pumps that were under-delivering and to issue notices of failure if the pumps failed the test for a penalty.

Some of the stations visited were found to be under-delivering the right quantities to their customers while others had broken the GSA seal without permission.