Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dodgy Petrol?

As many of you might have already heard by now, there is a general concern among the Sri Lankan public (the ones who own/drive vehicles at least) that there is something wrong with the petrol that is available at the ol’ “petrol-sheds” out there.

I don’t read newspapers. Don’t even watch local “news” programmes on the Telly. So it is not surprising that I only heard about this issue yesterday. Only when a colleague of mine at work informed a few of us of an interesting telephone conversation he had just had with his friend who worked at a prominent car dealership in Colombo. He said that there are droves of pissed-off owners brining their sputtering vehicles to this particular dealership to figure out why their vehicle doesn’t run so smoothly anymore. The cause? Apparently, dodgy petrol.

“Oh sh*t! My tank is almost empty” I thought. I was planning to stop by a petrol-shed on my way home tonight to fill her up. During the next 30 minutes, I had called up someone I know who worked at Ceylon Petroleum Coorporation (CPC) and a couple of vehicle dealerships I knew to see if anyone can confirm this. The funny thing is that all three confirmed the story but the dealers were blaming the CPC and CPC was blaming the petrol-shed owners. Now what?

I had very little choice really,.. ignore the warning signs and pump petrol as usual or take the bus. If you had ever travelled on a bus in Colombo you would know that it is not much of a choice at all. So on my way home, just as I planned earlier, I stopped by a petrol-shed. I asked the attendant to fill ‘er up. While waiting I thought I would try my luck with the fuel attendant who looked cheerful enough. Cheerful enough for a petrol-shed attendant pumping petrol at the peak of evening traffic in Colombo that is.

“So what is this fuss about contaminated fuel then?” I asked casually.

Suddenly his cheerful demeanor vanished into thin air. He said, “I don’t know why people believe all these stories.”

Glimmer of hope,.. but I wanted confirmation. “You mean there is no problem”?

“Did I say that?”

Huh? I thought…

“There is a problem. But don’t believe what they say sir”.

He was clearly irritated by my ignorance. But at least he called me “sir”. So I pushed it…

“So what is the problem then?”

“Cars do have problems with this petrol. People come and complain to us sometimes. But how do we know it is our petrol? CPC says their petrol is pure. We take good care of petrol here. But the customer complains. Who knows what is going on?”. He picked up a pebble and threw it at a stray dog that got a little inquisitive – he missed the target but the mongrel was street-wise and didn’t hang around.

“Click” – it was the auto-cutoff of the petrol pump indicating that my tank was now full. That is my cue, I thought. So without another word, I paid for the petrol and drove away.

The way I see it, this is not something I can control even if I get to the bottom of this. So I decided to stay happily ignorant. By the way, the vehicle still works.


Sanjay Fernando said...

Don't care where the contamination came from. After all, if the vehicle is affected I'm sure no one will take blame.

But from what i hear, IOC petrol is unaffected, (which would imply that the Ceypetco has something to do with it).

Also, pumping 95 octane is safer. But then again these are just hear-say. Going to delay pumping petrol for a while.

Sanesh Fernando said...

I also got to know this yesterday. Guys in office says IOC petrol too is contaminated.

I also heard that 95 Octane is not contaminated. So today I pumped 95 Octane petrol from the Kohuwala Laugh Shed. I noticed that every car that was there while I was in the shed went for 95 Octane. I asked the guy pumping my car whether it's true that there is a problem with the petrol. He said that No one yet complained. So I was thinking, even if people complain, would he share those with me ? :)

Do you know that there are places (labs) where they check the quality of water? Same way if we could check samples of petrol from no of sheds, then it would be ideal. :)

Jack Point said...

There is a major problem with contaminated fuel, two guys from our office were affected today. They had pumped on Monday and last Friday.

I was told that it was people who pumped on Monday who had the worst experience.

Chan said...

The same fiasco with me, heard it all happened. Also our Asanka is effected and had to clean his petrol pump and the system which had cost him around 11 grand.

I already have 3/4 like fuel left, what i thought of pumping a liter or so to a bottle, check and fill then

That's the solution for the mo :-(

Kokila said...

I drove on with the risk of being stranded on the road, all the while a 'low' sign glaring at me. Made it home ok. decided to work from home on Friday :)

Patta Pal said...

There is some form of accountability now accepted, but it is not clear what it is. There is agreement to pay without admission of guilt.

Either way an investigation is warranted with a quick resolution one way or another.

Bimal said...

Sanjay: Yeah, so far the only safe things is to pump 95, or leave your vehicle at home. There seem to be hotlines created to take in customer complaints, but not clear if that will do any good.

Sanesh: Well, I heard that shed owners are supposed to check the quality of their petrol from time to time. What is the bet that none of them do?

Jack: Yeah, hope that it was just one shipment and it would go off within a few days.

Chan: Poor Asanka. Ingenious solution BTW!

Kokila: Good for you that you have the option of working from home :-)

Patta Pal: Yeah, I hope a solution is found quickly. I only have about half a tank left.

BK said...

It is obvious they cheated the people. They maintained the stand that there was nothing wrong in CPC until they could find a scapegoat. They they found a guy just about to retire blamed him and next thing you know he will be posted as a Diplomat to another country just like our IGP. Sri Lanka lives upto its reputation - Land like no other

Bimal said...

BK: Accountability. That's all we ask for...