Editorial - CPC in an oily mess

Our sister paper, The Sunday Times, yesterday reported that more than 150 complaints were received by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation(CPC) about cases of vehicle and machinery break downs, as a result of the stock of substandard diesel released to the market.

On two previous occasions, in 2009 and 2011, the CPC was caught red handed for importing and distributing substandard fuel. Many vehicle and fuel station owners became victims of the short sighted move, to whom compensation was to be paid in due course. It was a time of professing apologies by the authorities concerned. There was to be an investigation, not only to submit a detailed report but also to avoid the recurrence of such fiascos.
Yet, the reliable service dreamt of by many, was hard to come by.

Whether the state authority can afford to pay compensation is not the problem. Perhaps, those who govern the authority may have not comprehended fully the fact that, once lost, no amount of compensation can reinstate credibility.

Time and again, a shortcoming like this shows the incurable obduracy of the individuals who sit in the higher echelons who seem to think they are paragons of perfection. In this instance too, the Minister concerned, stood by the stock of oil, and blamed it all on the pumps in the fuel stations. Like in the recent Z-score muddle, admitting the mistake in the first instance would have saved the time and money of many, including those of the authority.
Besides, there is an unanswered question as to why the CPC removed the company that distributed substandard fuel from the blacklist so soon. Distributing fuel unfit for consumption is neither a minute matter, nor can the repercussions of it, be easily forgotten. On the other hand, supplying oil that did not answer the required criteria was clearly a breach of contract. Hence, on what grounds can the CPC justify its leniency towards the errant company needs to be duly answered.

People have lost faith in the system of paying compensation; for it is all about stealing from their shirt pockets to fill their trouser-pockets. The authorities, just because they come under the government, should not be above laws to dump anything on the consumer. If the CPC does not see the need to perform regular quality control tests, any man in the street can be an oil importer or a distributor.

It is no secret that the CPC has been incurring heavy losses. If the high heads in the authorities feel the need to come out of the abyss, they should start by being accountable to the consumer and there should be transparency in their actions.

After all, people have got sick of hearing the words ‘I don’t know why’ in place of solid explanations. They do not want ministers and officials who speak not-so-enigmatic one-liners.

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