- Errant fuel stations will be penalised
The Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) is on the cusp of introducing a new quality assurance system which will publicly list compliant service stations and bring public shame to non-compliant ones.
This publication has it on good authority that the new Star Rating Tool (STR) which will be introduced soon is intended to incentivize fuel stations to improve service standards, in the same breadth nudge them to comply with regulations of the authority.
In a worst case scenario, a zero-starred service station will have its operating licence cancelled. The rating spectrum is such that 5 stars represents an Excellent Performance while 4 and 3 stars represents Good Performance. Meanwhile, 2 stars represents Fair Performance while a single star represents an Okay Performance.
“For filling stations to operate, they will need to have at least one star, which is attain at least 10 points of the aggregate score. Below this mark the licence will be suspended for a specified period to allow for remedial action. Failure to complete the remedial actions within the specified period will result in the facility completely closed and the license revoked,” warns the report.
This system which is already in place in countries such as Nepal, South Africa, Zambia and New Zealand among others, will be piloted in Gaborone before being rolled out into the rest of the country.
This publication has separately uncovered a 2020 proposal document titled Star Rating Program Tool. The detailed report describes this program as similar to what prevails in the tourism industry used to rate facilities based on their historic performance
It further continues to state: “these can be measured through monitored key performance indicators, facility inspections carried out by the authority, consumer feedback and other compliance issues such as adherence to licence conditions and sanctions for non-compliance.”
It however notes that this arrangement is not a comparison or ranking system meaning retail sites will be competing against the criteria and not amongst themselves directly.
The report also advised that the assessment and rating be done annually via technical assessment inspections and the use of mystery shoppers.
Technical assessment are to cover onsite inspection against available standards and legislative requirements as well as an evaluation of customer feedback collected by a facility;
The awarded stars will be publicly displayed by BERA at filling stations where all motorists can easily spot them. A certificate from BERA indicating this rating will be issued and is to be displayed alongside the licence at all times
The listed objectives of this program are to incentivize compliance,improve service delivery at petroleum facilities as well as to provide information to customers for them to make better choices.
Further objectives are to strengthen regulation through public participation, reduce monitoring and compliance costs as well as improving overall aesthetic value of facilities.
BERA is one of the youngest regulatory bodies in the country. Statutorily, it was founded by the BERA Act of 2016 and started operating on the 1st of September, 2017.
In the broader scheme of things, it’s mandate is to regulate the expansive energy sector, from electricity, gas through coal to petroleum, solar and all forms of renewable energy.
Part of its mandate is to set industry service standards as well as to determine processes and methodologies for monitoring performance in the sector as per section 33 sub-section 2 of the founding statute.