Executive Chairman,  Petroleum Regulatory Agency (PRA), Brima M. Baluma Koroma has swiftly moved to instill sanity in the oil industry for better service delivery.

Immediately, he was appointed to head the industry this year, Chairman Koroma and team visited the jetty facility and installation facilities of all the oil companies to ascertain whether they operate in full compliance with PRA standards.

This was followed by a regional tour to some parts of the country where safety concerns continue to be herculean task.

Meeting with representatives of oil dealers and oil marketers throughout the country yesterday at the British Council, Tower Hill Freetown,  Koroma briefed them about his October regional tour where he was shocked to see how oil dealers are flouting PRA safety precautions and standards.

Being an oil dealer expert, Koroma said that his provincial tour discovered that, filling stations operate in poor health and unsafe environments-where dwelling houses are also used as filling stations, welding purpose which is totally against the PRA Acts, illegal operations of filling stations without the requisite document, storing petroleum products without  safety standard and that many of them do not recognize PRA as the sole regulator of the industry.

“I have been part of this industry for many years which many of you know. So there is nothing one can do that I will not notice. My duty is to ensure that there is fairness between the dealers and the Oil Marketing Companies and at the same time protects the interest of Sierra Leoneans. Despite my closeness or familiarization with most of you, I can’t gamble the safety of the industry at the expense of our long-standing relationship because what I saw on the tour will never create a good picture for our industry and 2019 is not going to be business as usual,” he emphasized.

The Executive Chairman assured that 95% of filling stations visited in the provinces have enough products for at least eight weeks and most of them sell at the official government pumping price of Le, 8,000.

Showing statistics and operations of the industry, the Assistant Manager for Registration and Compliance Erica Fyfe, said that some independent dealers have no pumping price affixed in their stations, no display of safety signs, no proper dress code, poor housekeeping and un-clean outlets, no knowledge of using fire extinguisher and no authorized trading document, these and more according to her will not be tolerated.

Fyfe revealed that despite government order in 2011 for dealers to adopt the metric system of measurement and abandon the imperial, some filling stations are still installing bottles to sell which is totally against the Standards Bureau’s principles.

She called on the dealers to be collecting invoices at the PRA before proceeding to pay any money at the Bank of Sierra Leone instead of paying first before coming as the Treasury Single Account is now what they operate.

Osman Jalloh, an N.P dealer and General Secretary for Dealers Union, hailed the timely intervention of the Chairman for bringing and instituting sanity in the industry as in the past, they have nowhere to cry to or forward their complaints to and said that independent dealers are the movers and shakers of the industry and without adequate security and fair play, they would not be able to generate income for the government.

He called on the Chairman to engage oil marketing companies to not only sell their products but also to provide after sales and technical advises.

He called on the Chairman to find a way to incorporate a dealer in every crucial matter that would be discussed so that their concerns would be noted and addressed.

Wordsworth Cole, a dealer of Total products said that dealers are the bulk risk takers in the industry and if they are not protected, their operations would not be fruitful.

Another independent dealer, Mohamed Sillah said that oil marketers have responsibilities to instill safety and that PRA being the regulator should ensure that is done.

He narrated how the recent change of price affected him as he had already paid for products two days before the change occurred and the oil marketing company sold to him at the current price which made him to lose Le, 28, 000,000. At a go.

Winston Faulkner; Operation Manager Total SL said that such a gathering has never been done and it has brought together stakeholders in the industry where concerns have been noted and addressed.

Mary Ganda representing the National Petroleum said that every concerns raised will be relayed to management as the company remains committed towards the sanitization of the industry.

Melvin Moigboi of  LEONCO and other dealers thanked the Chairman for addressing unattended problems that have been affecting them.

Responding to their concerns, Chairman Koroma said that he would not blame the dealers for now because much was not done to popularize the PRA Acts but admonished them to register their businesses and follow the Acts as 2019 anyone who fails to adhere to the rules and regulation of PRA, will have his or her license withdrawn and fined.

“You have some independent dealers with ten filling station and most of them are not standard. The best thing to do in such a case is to close four or five and boost the remaining ones so that they can be standard,” he advised.

The Chairman said that he would continue to call such meeting when necessary to provide a platform where their concerns will be noted.

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