Following revelations by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) that huge amounts of premix fuel meant for fisher-folk loaded from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) had been diverted for the past eight months, it has emerged that the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council petitioned the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture over the said diversion as far back as April 2017.
Citi News has sighted a petition from the Council that was addressed to the Minister for Fisheries and Acquaculture Development specifically on April 27, 2017.
The petition had indicated that, the practice of diversion, which is usually prevalent in areas such as Ashaiman among others, leads to the fuel publicly sold in buckets, instead of being discharged through pumps.
“There is massive diversion of the product to areas like Ashaiman and are being sold publicly using ‘buckets”’instead of discharging it and using pumps as well as to several filling stations outside the landing beaches for sale to unsuspecting vehicle owners thus causing damage to their engines.”
Violent takeover by NPP functionaries
The Council further alleged in the petition that, there has been a “violent and sudden invasion of fish landing beaches countrywide by groups rampaging and raving as self proclaimed NPP functionaries who claimed to have been given the power to take over the running of affairs at the beaches.”
“The lawfully constituted landing beach committees were supplanted by new ones arbitrarily formed by Mr. Nii Lante Bannerman, Chairman of the National Premix Committee.These illegal committees are now in charge of the sale and management of premix fuel at the various landing beaches countrywide,” the petition said.
Premix diversion: I don’t have tracking system; NPA must arrest – Minister
The Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, has said the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), is in a better position to act on the widespread diversion of premix fuel.
According to her, the ministry does not have a tracking system to identify culprits hence the NPA, which has a system to track such happenings “must take action.”
“They have the trackers, the NPA by law is supposed to be monitoring the supply and distribution of the pre-mix fuel, and it is the NPA that has that authority to be prosecuting offenders. So I told the NPA that the moment you find somebody perpetuating this crime, you arrest this person on the spot. The NPA has the tracker. As I sit here, I don’t have any tracker, I don’t have a tracking system to tell who is diverting pre-mix fuel or not,” the minister said on Eyewitness News on Tuesday.
Shortage of fuel worries fishermen
Fisher-folk in the Western Region had told Citi News that the supply of the product has not been regular since the beginning of January 2017.
They say the Nana Addo government started supplying the product on a good note in January, but the situation took a nosedive when various scheduled date were violated.
The Western Region since January 2017 has had 189,000 gallons of premix fuel diverted 14 times, mainly to Tema. These diversions were done on a small scale in the first half of the year, but took a dramatic turn in July up until October.
‘Over 200 cases’
The National Petroleum Authority’s BRV Tracking System, recorded over 200 instances of diverted premix fuel between January and October 2017, but the regulator has failed to sanction the perpetrators.
It has instead been writing letters repeatedly to the National Premix Committee, which says it has no power to prosecute or entirely check the distribution of the product.
Fishing industry collapsing
This is happening at a time when fishing communities in need of the fuel hardly get access to it due to its shortage and high cost in their respective areas.
The lack of the product in these communities affects the activities of fisherfolks, eventually leading to fewer catches, allowing excess importation of fish and fish products from other countries.