EVALUATING PUMP METER FRAUD, A CASE STUDY OF FILLING STATION IN BENIN CITY
1.1 Background of the study
According to Olohunlambe (2016), proposed that it’s too much to expect honesty in any field in this country. Of course, not all Nigerians are like this, but it’s the few rotten eggs that bring offensive odour to an entire basket of eggs. This odour wafts outside the country, bringing us dishonour wherever Nigerians go. It’s no wonder that even South Africa that Nigeria helped enormously in every way to win their fight against Apartheid, now regards us as the scum of the earth, and singles us out for humiliating treatment within their country (Olohunlambe, 2016).
Nwokeji (2017) argued that cheating at the pumps is wide-spread in this country. According to Nwokeji, even though the NNPC filling stations are selling fuel at 97 naira per litre, same as others, you find long queues there at any given time; at least here in Benin City. This is because their one litre means one litre. At most other stations, metres have been tampered with, so, you get less fuel for the litres you pay for. Watch the needle when they start serving you. It starts at 3 naira as soon as the nozzle is picked up, and before it is inserted into your tank, even though the needle may have been at zero at the onset. That means to start with, they take 3 naira from you. This has been in practice even before the recent fuel hikes, so it can’t be attributed to the increase. You may say that three naira is nothing, but multiply that by the number of vehicles that are attended to every day. This is in addition to other cheating methods used (Nwokeji, 2017).
Ekine and Okidim, (2014) suggests that if an attendant at a filling station picks a conversation with you as soon as you get to his pump, please come out of your vehicle and let your eyes stay glued to the meter. Ekine and Okidim, (2014) said that even though for good public relations, those who serve the public are trained to be polite and nice to their customers, but here in Nigeria, this attitude is used to defraud. As you respond to their chat, they carry out all sorts of malpractice. Ejiofor, (2014) added that all fuel filling stations in Nigeria may not have cheats at the pumps, but his policy is that he never let down his guard. Ejiofor said, “I fix my eyes on the meter, ensure that it starts at the zero point when I’m being served, refuse to be distracted by any chat from the attendant or anyone else, and be quite alert until I’ve been served and I’ve paid. This is what living in this country has taught one. Expect to be cheated and do your best to vigorously resist it”.
Similarly, Gbenga (2016) asserted that an unsavoury dimension to the prevailing crisis in the nation’s oil sector is the fact that many filling stations appear to have perfected different ways by which they cheat their customers. Unknown to many, the unsolicited gestures and friendly jokes dispensed by many filling station attendants are meant to divert the customer’s attention from the fuel dispensing metre with the sole aim of dispensing less fuel than the unsuspecting customer would pay for. This, in addition to outright adjustment of the metre to dispense less fuel than is displayed on it, is a practice that has been going on for long (Gbenga, 2016).
According to a report, during the last fuel scarcity, in just three months, Nigerians lost about N200 billion to fuel underdispensing. Report also revealed that on every one litre of fuel bought at filling stations, Nigerians lose at least N5.82k on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise called petrol. Statistics obtained from the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) put daily consumption of petrol at 38.298 million litres. When computed, a total of 3,446,820,000 litres of petrol are consumed in three months (90 days). Statistics from the Weight and Measures department of Trade and Investment Ministry revealed that most fuel-pumps have been adjusted to dispense between 18.8 and 19.2 litres of petrol in place of 20 litres to short- change unsuspecting consumers. On the average, 18.8 litres are dispensed as 20 litres. By implication, 0.94 litre of petrol is dispensed as 1 litre and this means Nigerians are paying N97 per litre of petrol for every N91.18k worth of petrol purchased (Olohunlambe, 2016). Further investigations revealed that petrol attendants are not alone in this shady business. They commit the heinous crime in connivance with their station managers and owners. This, according to investigation, explains why many attendants who have been caught engaging in such sharp practices express no remorse and still manage to retain their jobs at such filling stations. The situation leaves a victim helpless because their superiors would rather plead with a customer than fire an errant attendant (Gbenga, 2016).
1.2 Statement of the problem
The Weight and Measures Department in the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has shut down 30 filling stations in Benin. According to Nwachukwu (2018), the fuel stations were shut due to faulty meter pumps used by petroleum marketers. The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment have investigated about 120 filling stations and some of the marketers are doing well, while some are cheating buyers. Now, this issue of fuel attendants cheating customers is on the increase. They have all the tricks up their sleeves to ensure that no customer goes away without being cheated. Nwachukwu said during one of their investigation, customer complained to them that he asked for two thousand, five hundred naira worth of fuel to be put in his tank and right before his eyes, the attendant stopped at two thousand naira mark, removed the nozzle from his tank and asked for money. The customer gave the attendant two thousand naira. ‘Oga, it remains five hundred naira.’ The customer turned to point at the meter. It was already back at zero! Had my eyes deceived me, he told Nwachukwu? Embarrassed, the customer handed over five hundred naira. The attendant smiled smugly and turned to another customer. The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment had to shut the filling stations cheating buyers and invite them to our office for questioning. Most of the filling stations put the blame on tanker drivers, evaporation and task forces that are after them. It was also revealed that the filling stations that were shut down would be opened after an investigation about why they tightened their meter pumps (Nwachukwu, 2018).
1.3 Objective of the study
The general objective of this study is to evaluate pump meter fraud, a case study of filling station in Benin City.
Specific objectives of this study are:
- To determine ways petrol attendants cheat customers in filling stations in Benin City.
- To identify factors responsible for pump meter fraud in filling stations in Benin City.
- To proffer recommendations on the basis of the research findings
1.4 Research Questions
- How does a petrol attendant cheat customers in filling stations in Benin City?
- What are the factors responsible for pump meter fraud in filling stations in Benin City?
- What are the recommendations on the basis of the research findings?
1.5 Justification of the study
The study will be great importance to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and Government Agencies as well as the general public and filling stations owners. To start with, this study will provide proper information on management system. The right to privacy and secrecy towards reducing fraud are not left out in this research work.
1.6 Scope of the study
The scope of the study is limited to assessing how petrol attendant cheat customers in filling station in Benin City. Also with the focus on factors responsible for pump meter fraud using filling station in Benin City.
EVALUATING PUMP METER FRAUD, A CASE STUDY OF FILLING STATION IN BENIN CITY