- While consumers in many West African countries complain about poor quality gasoline on the market, Senegalese consumers since 2002 have only had access to good gasoline. Authorities strive hard to control the quality of imported gasoline into the country.
Unlike most countries in the region, Senegalese authorities have put in place effective quality control systems at the port of entry, which disallowed offloading of poor quality gasoline or fuel in general. The measure was precipitated by the public outcry over the poor quality of imported gasoline in 2002.
High level investigations into the issue by the police uncovered the source of the poor quality, which Senegalese consumers say was distributed by Mobil. Soon, the sale of the shipment of bad gasoline - which had taken its negative toll on human health, the environment and vehicle engines - was banned.
At a time most parts of West African citizens are complaining of dwindling quality of gasoline, Senegalese drivers, petrol sellers, port officials and police, are proud of the country's quality gasoline.
Drivers admitted that the gasoline banned in 2002 could have endangered the lives of a number of their colleagues and destroyed vehicles. "Since most drivers who used the bad quality gasoline did not go for medical check-up, we are yet to know how many of them became victims of the problem," said Momar Gueye, a Dakar driver.
"Both the government and port officials see the need to guarantee the entry of imported quality gasoline into Senegal," a port official told afrol News. The official, who wished to remain unnamed, said they cannot sit back and allow poor quality gasoline to harm people and the environment.
afrol News investigations have indicated the offloading of poor gasoline products in the ports of some West African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana and Togo. Several named vessels and transport routes have come into the spotlight of investigations.
But according to Jean-François Grangette, the Commercial Manager of Grimaldi Senegal oversseing the Dakar port, none of the vessels in question have ever sailed at the Dakar port. "None of the vessels or their agents have sailed here," he told afrol News.
In neighbouring Gambia, however, consumers are increasingly frustrated by gasoline quality, as witnessed by information forwarded to afrol News from several citizens. Sidat Jammeh [not his real name] writes about a car that "broke down" after it had been "refilled in a Shell station in The Gambia barely two weeks ago. The car was smoking excessively and eventually it had to be taken to a mechanic who said the engine needs to be cleaned against the poor fuel." Reparation costs were set at dalasi 10,000 (euro 300).
But in Senegal, consumers have regained control after the 2002 scandal. For Wandifa Savane, a leader of driver's union, Senegal's gasoline quality is unquestionable. "It was only in 2002 when we experienced bad gasoline problems, and I don't think there will be a repeat of that considering the effective entry measures."
Mr Savane said a boom in the local oil industry had also forced companies to be quality conscious. "As the situation now appears, any company that compromises its quality will surely pay a heavy price for its action, as its products will be boycotted," he said.
Currently, for most Senegalese drivers, the problem lies with the soaring gasoline price instead of the quality. This has had negative impact on transportation in the country, as commercial vehicles are forced to increase fare while salaries remain stagnant.
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