380 motorists to be compensated for 2015 ‘bad gas’ damage

About 380 Jamaican motorists are to benefit from government’s $24.5 million compensation package, for alleged damage to their vehicles linked to the sale of contaminated or “bad” gas at petrol service stations in 2015.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology (SET), Fayval Williams made the announcement in a statement to the House of Representatives, yesterday.

She said that following up on the advice of the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) in January, 2016, approximately a month after the issue broke, 478 complaints were received from motorists claiming engine damage resulting from the use of the gas. However, only 423 of the applicants provided the necessary information, and eventually only 381 qualified for compensation.

The drama emerged in December, 2015 after then SET Minister, Phillip Paulwell confirmed reports that motorists were complaining about being sold contaminated gas at service stations, which was damaging their vehicles’ engines.

The Bureau of Standards (BSJ), and state-owned oil refinery, Petrojam, launched a full probe, and a fuel quality report was released revealing details of illegal mixing stations, rogue service stations and conspiracies at various levels of the petrol trade.

Paulwell’s energy ministry said it would seek advice on a possible class action on behalf of the affected motorists, the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association (JGRA) started compiling claims for compensation by its members and motorists were advised to submit formal documentation for compensation, to the CAC.

The Petroleum Trade Reform Committee was given the task of reviewing the regulations and protocols governing the local petroleum trade, and to do a thorough investigation into the alleged contaminated petrol.

The national Compliance Regulatory Authority carried out escalated regulatory activities, including sampling the gas at several locations island-wide, while the BSJ tested bulk fuels and storage facilities, as well as test fuel from the tanks of the affected vehicles.

They came to no definitive conclusions about the contaminant in the product, but the report offered numerous recommendations. The ministry examined the recommendations and felt that they could improve the security of the petroleum industry. They were submitted to the Cabinet, which gave the final approval, recently.

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