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JGRA eagerly awaiting new Petroleum Act

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — President of the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association (JGRA) Dianne Parram says a more stringent approach has been taken in observing safety measures at petrol stations in recent times, even as the association eagerly awaits the new Petroleum Act.

Exactly a year ago a devastating fire at Heaven’s Fesco petrol station in this central Jamaica town sparked widespread debate about how such stations are operated.

“We have embarked on a safety campaign to target our members as well as the marketing companies have been working with us to ensure that all pump islands have extinguishers. We have signs. We have encouraged our members and some of them have also had fire drills done with the fire department to ensure the actions that we take in the event of a fire are really up to standard,” she told the Jamaica Observer recently.

There are about 330 petrol and service stations in Jamaica, with approximately 270 dealers being members of the JGRA.

The massive fire in Mandeville resulted in the death of 59-year-old mechanic Daniel Farquharson, the injuring of several people and approximately $100 million in damage.

Parram blasted some motorists who have scant regard for observing safety measures at petrol stations, including a requirement that people avoid using cellphones while close to the fuel pump.

“If when you pull up to a gas station every pump island has signs…somebody drives up and they are on their cellphone, they say, ‘I cannot come off my phone now, because I am dealing with an important matter.’

“It is a difficult and challenging part of our operation, but we try, and we believe we can overcome it. We can’t operate without the customer. We have difficult customers in every industry,” said Parram.

The JGRA is eagerly awaiting the new Petroleum (Downstream Activities) Act, which will supersede several other pieces of legislation governing the industry, and will include safety provisions.

“We are awaiting the finalised document for review. We had a meeting with our new minister [Daryl Vaz] when the new Administration came in October. We were told that there are some things that will be addressed in the ‘Downstream’ Act – some of the issues that we had,” she said.

She believes, though, that things have dragged on for too long.

“We believe it is taking too long, because there was a previous minister and extensive work was done, and [we] had extensive discussions. We understand with COVID the dislocations and the meetings that are taking place,” she said.

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