Energy and Energy Minister Kanachana Wijesekara has announced that fuel tankers owned by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) will have GPS tracking this month as part of their forthcoming fleet management system. In the wake of Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, the ministry has attempted to streamline fuel supplies across the island over the past year and has been successful with its QR-based National Fuel Pass scheme. With the new GPS tracking mechanism, the Department of Energy appears to be taking its modernization efforts a step further.
As early as July 2022, ICTA, together with the Department of Energy and Energy, introduced the National Fuel Pass system to alleviate fuel supply problems in the country. Although the system had its issues at launch, the process was soon ironed out as it rolled out across the island and managed to surpass six million registrations in three months. Now that the Sinhala and Tamil New Year season is approaching, the CPC and Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Ltd (CPSTL) are hoping to go beyond the QR-based process with a fleet management system.
GPS tracking comes on CPC tankers
Sri Lanka currently hosts 150 CPC fuel tankers, according to CPSTL, with the private sector claiming to have around 700. By April 15, all CPC-owned fuel tankers are to be equipped with GPS trackers, followed by private tankers, according to Minister Wijesekara. These GPS trackers are part of the fleet management system that has reportedly been in the works for at least a year. A report from The Morning states that the acquisition of this system was proposed by CPC Chairman Mohamed Uvais Mohamed as early as 2022, although the approval and procurement processes took more than six months. The chairman goes on to mention that the new fleet management system could potentially save “approximately LKR 1 billion” once it is fully operational.
A progress review meeting was held this morning with CPC and CPSTL management and senior staff. Review of fuel schedule for the next 8 weeks, refinery operations and fuel distribution over the Christmas period. Decisions were made to close 40 gas stations that are continuously not… pic.twitter.com/eW4EA2qD7j
— Kanchana Wijesekera (@kanchana_wij) April 6, 2023
Wijeskara also announced that 40 gas stations that have consistently failed to comply with QR quotas have now been closed. This suspension comes months after the CPC issued a warning to gas stations that those who do not comply with the National Fuel Pass system will either be suspended or no longer receive fuel supplies.
Count on the success of QR
Additionally, the approaching holiday season prompted the Department to increase the weekly fuel allowance for all vehicle types under the National Fuel Pass scheme. However, it remains to be seen whether this increased rate will remain the same after Avurudu. Some are already wondering if the government plans to do away with the fuel pass system altogether, but the minister has publicly denied that it will. In fact, it now appears that the government is doubling down on the QR system for its other ministries as well.
Photo credit: Nazly Ahmed
Interestingly, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera announced that his ministry plans to launch its own QR code system to speed up the distribution of fertilizers, seeds and other related materials from the government to farmers. It is currently unclear when this system will be publicly available to farmers and how the onboarding process will be designed. Notwithstanding, given the acceptance rates for the National Fuel Pass system, expectations are likely to be high.