With many car owners using social media as a platform to vent their frustration about petrol stations defrauding customers in Vientiane, Savannakhet and Champassak provinces, authorities have too found that several petrol stations are, in fact, cheating consumers by not providing sufficient amounts of fuel or providing dirty fuel.
Over the past two months, the Standards Department at the Ministry of Science and Technology has prompted authorities to inspect the quality and quantity of fuel at frequented petrol stations, and though the department won’t release information on what petrol stations or how many are guilty of the scam, it has been confirmed that the stations have been warned to cease operations until all meters have been reset properly.
A senior official at the Ministry of Science and Technology has asserted that authorities have warned several stations in the capital after being caught cheating customers. The official further explained that if these operators are found to be guilty of cheating consumers again, regulations will be enforced and the stations will be fined and penalized.
The Ministry of Science and Technology in cooperation with relevant sectors implemented a pilot project last October, where they inspected petrol stations and discovered that several stations were selling contaminated fuel.
The inspection of petrol stations have gained traction in recent months due to requests and complaints made by the Petroleum and Gas Group Association, vehicle dealerships and members of the public. Dirty fuel not only damages engines but also affects the reputation of vehicle and fuel businesses in Laos. Dirty fuel could derive from poor management of oil imports, resulting in petrol stations buying fuel from any source at a cheap price, regardless of quality.
According to the Ministry of Science and Technology, all fuel will be tested at border checkpoints for quality assurance before being distributed to petrol stations from this point on. In addition, the ministry will check petrol stations routinely, particularly those that are popular amongst motorists.
The fuel quality testing and inspection is part of the government’s efforts to protect the rights of consumers.
Laos imports all its fuel from other countries, but there is no official report about the exact figure of petrol imported to Laos for 2015 or 2016. However, according to the latest report released in 2013 by the Lao Petroleum and Gas Association, Laos imported over 911 million liters of fuel. An estimated 45 to 50 percent of the fuel Laos imports is used in Vientiane capital and Vientiane province alone.