In the issue regarding the November 31st incident at NP Brookfields Station, when the Petroleum Regulatory Agency (PRA), accompanied by journalists, went and sealed the Station, claiming that it was creating an artificial scarcity in an already security-sensitive society, NP actually deserves an apology.
It turned out that PRA did not hesitate to close the Station even though they were informed that the said fuel in stock had already been bought by Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF). This incident, circulated by the media present, dented the hard-earned name of the NP brand causing it reputational damage.
After realising the fact that the fuel was indeed bought by RSLAF, PRA went the following day, this time without any media presence to unseal the Station. Without any form of regret, PRA went quietly to break the seal, failing to bring the world along to witness the truth.
The crux of the incident bordered on overzealous personnel from PRA, accompanied by some journalists, storming the NP-SL Filling Station located at Brookfields, West End of Freetown disrupting activities by abruptly ordering that the Filling Station be sealed off on the pretext that it is deliberately refusing to sell petroleum products with the avowed aim of creating artificial scarcity.
Personnel of PRA discourteously commanded the personnel at the aforementioned Filling Station to immediately commence the selling of petroleum products to members of the public, a command that was not adhered to because there was an ongoing offloading of fuel into tanks situated at the Filling Station.
On the pretext of creating an impression that they were working in the best interest of the public or out of a preconceived notion that an artificial scarcity was being created they decided to take the unfortunate decision to seal off the Filling Station until further notice.
As a matter of fact, consideration was not given to the fact that best practice dictates that to enhance and optimize safety standards, as petroleum products are highly inflammable, whenever an offloading of petroleum products is taking place at any given Filling Station, sales of the inflammable products to the public should be suspended or put on hold until the offloading is completed and sales recommence.
That exactly was what was transpiring at the NP-SL Brookfields Filling Station at the time when the PRA monitoring team stormed or forcefully breezed in.
What also infuriated the personnel of the Filling Station was the disrespect shown by PRA after Management painstakingly explained that the stock of petroleum products they were having had already been paid for by the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) and an assurance was given that when the stand-by fuel tanker would have been off-loaded the station would start selling to members of the public instantly. Yet that was taken with a pinch of salt not believing that what they were intimated was indeed true.
Rather, through utterance and actions, the Head of the PRA team gave a crowd that has already gathered at the scene the impression that the petroleum products were been hoarded and it was a deliberate ploy bordering on sabotage.
It was not until the next day that the PRA realized that the station management had been saying the truth. With subdued shame and guilt, after an embarrassment has been caused, they went and unseal the Filling Station without the temerity of even tendering any apology out of the conviction that they will be deemed weak when in reality unprofessionalism to the highest degree has been displayed.
According to a Social Commentator, NP-SL has etched its reputation in the sands of time as a credible petroleum marketing entity that is completely apolitical and has, over the years, demonstrated that it is a proud and responsible corporate citizen that has been working faithfully and assiduously to ensure seamless flow of petroleum products in Sierra Leone.
He concluded that the PRA should have been professionally competent enough to have realized that it is totally unethical and unsafe to be simultaneously be selling petroleum products and discharging or offloading fuel or diesel into tanks.
Their conduct only resulted in unnecessarily creating an ugly scene that drew public attention as well as causing a gross embarrassment.