By Sam Oditah
Umuahia, Sept. 12, 2020 The Department of Weights and Measures in the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment has sealed 32 petrol and gas outlets in Abia for various infractions, including operating without certificate.
Naija247news reports that a team from the department was in the state for a weeklong surveillance and enforcement of compliance in the usage of accurate weights and measures.
Mr Saka Gafar, an Assistant Director in the ministry and Head of the team, said on Saturday that the mission of the team was to ensure accuracy of equipment for stations and markets that used weights and measures.”
Gafar told NAN in Umuahia that the team visited 92 petrol and gas outlets in addition an abattoir during the exercise that ended on Friday.
He said that the team sealed five stations in Umuahia and 27 in the commercial city of Aba and its environs.
He alleged that the stations were operating without certificate from the agency for their weights and measures and failed to pay statutory fees.
He added that some of them were committing errors in measurement.
He said that it was mandatory for prospective operators to obtain certificate for their weights and measures before opening to the public.
Gafar said: “Many petrol and gas dealers as well as butchers do not have our certificate.
“They are serving the public without certified weights and measures,” he said.
He added that some of them were underdispensing products to unsuspecting customers.
“Before going into any business that uses weights and measures, dealers should apply to the department for us to visit and inspect their equipment to know whether they are approved for use in Nigeria.
“When we have confirmed their equipment as appropriate and accurate, then approval will be given and certificate will be issued after they have paid the statutory fees.
“In Abia, we observed that some paid but many did not, and after they were notified, they continued to give excuses; thus, evading tax payment to the Federal Government.”
Gafar said that some defaulters claimed to have paid the fees but showed no evidence.
“Once they are able to show proof of payment, we will unseal their outlets.”
He said that the department would first invite defaulters to its office, where they would be cautioned and educated on the right things to do.
“If they fail to come, then, we prepare a memo to the legal department to start the process to prosecute them,” he said.
Gafar further said that the team observed that butchers at the Waterside Abattoir, Aba, were selling meat without scale.
“Some customers said they preferred to negotiate price for meat rather than use scale, which usually have a fixed amount,” he said.
The South-East Zonal Coordinator of the agency, Mrs Cordelia Nwachukwu, said that findings showed that the zone was lagging behind in the use of measures for business transactions.
“Here, measures are not standardised.
“We want to ensure that if you are buying grains in Aba with measures, the standard will be the same in Umuahia or Ohafia,” Nwachukwu said.
She regretted that although the Abia Government introduced the policy a few years ago, it failed.
“It is the duty of our agency, in liaison with state governments, to enforce the Weights and Measures Act, 2004 (item 65) as amended,” Nwachukwu said.
She promised that the zonal office would carry out quarterly inspection in the five states in the zone to create more awareness about its operations.
“We want Weights and Measures to become a household name in the zone,” she said.