Petrol retailers warn public about 'mobile' gas stations

Business

Petrol retailers warn public about 'mobile' gas stations

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

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The Jamaica Gasoline Retailers Association (JGRA) on Monday last warned a parliamentary committee reviewing the proposed Occupational Safety & Health (OSH) Act, 2017 at Gordon House, to consider a developing trend of “mobile” petrol stations.

According to JGRA President Gregory Chung, the association is aware of the trend, and it is a growing concern for legal service station operators and a threat to public safety.

“These are mobile gas stations, and through the entrepreneurial spirit of our country they have found ways to circumvent all the different regulatory agencies that we report to, and they are moving around,” Chung informed the committee, chaired by minister of state in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Zavia Mayne.

“You guys must have seen them around town; they are miniature (petrol) tankers that have been retrofitted with pumps and meters, and they will literally go every and anywhere and retail fuel, and it has taken off islandwide,” Chung said.

“We have brought it to the attention of the energy ministry and we will continue to advocate and to look for ways to make it safer, because not only is it taking away business from our members, but it is a clear, clear hazard and it has taken many forms,” he noted.

Chung continued: “We are not even sure what premise they are operating under, because MSTEM [Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology] says that they have not issued any kind of licence for this activity, and it is taking footing. In fact, for the last few years it had been mostly delivering diesel fuel, as you all know diesel is a flashpoint. But, recently, it has moved to 90 unleaded (petrol) and everyone here knows the danger of 90 (petrol), and they don't have any safeguards in place.”

Asked by committee member Senator Kavan Gaye if he is sure that the illegal operators are not JGRA members, “trying to be innovative in any way, shape or form”, Chung said that his association would never allow it.

He added that there is no possible way his members, who have accepted so many safety standards, descend to that level and put the public at risk in this fashion.

“There is no possible way, and I don't know which loophole they have found, but it needs to be closed,” Chung stated.

Maine then asked if it is possible they (mobile dealers) could have obtained a licence from any of the public safety agencies, Chung responded: “I can't really speak to it, but I don't see how it is possible.”

Senator Gayle said he had never seen the vehicles, and asked how they could be identified?

“Where do they get the petrol from marketing company or dealer? Because if that is really so, I can see the real danger. Who supplies them?” Opposition Senator Wensworth Skeffery queried.

“It looks like the old-time kerosene trucks. Trucks that used to go around and sell kerosene...so it has the (equipment) to show you the amount and the cost of what they sell,” Chung responded.

JGRA former president and current vice-president Derrick Thompson said that most of the regulatory bodies for the sector are geared to checking on fixed assets and permanent addresses.

“And what we are finding out, as stated by our president, is that it has been duly noted perhaps for the last three years, that we have what you call so-called peddlers peddling high-octane gasoline. It is a very strange development. It is a very hazardous practice,” Edwards warned.

The OSH Bill is intended to repeal the Factories Act (1943), which is limited in scope and excludes vital sectors and groups such as finances, shops and offices, agriculture, petrol stations and the public sector. The proposed legislation's introduction is expected to usher in a new paradigm in workplace safety and health across Jamaica.


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