In the wake of the uncovered diversion of huge consignments of premix fuel meant for fisher-folk in the country’s coastal communities, fisher-folk in the Western Region, have 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.
According to the leaked NPA letters complaining about the diversions, Compass Oleum, one of the Oil Marketing Companies distributing the Premix Fuel to fishermen, allegedly on October 2nd and 13th this year, had signed in the name of the Anto Apewosika Landing Beach Committee, one of the 8 landing beaches at Axim, a predominantly fishing community in the Nzema East Municipality, but never had their product supplied.
Compass Oleum had even said the committee had received and signed relevant documents covering the product delivery.
But the fishermen narrated a different story. An unhappy NPP party representative on the Anto Apewosika Landing Beach Committee, Joseph Sam, explained that the Anto Apewosika Landing Beach Committee has not been supplied the commodity for nearly a month.
He said he could not understand why others will be supplied but they will be denied.
“We have some 120 canoes here. Throughout this year, we have received a total of 18 tankers which is inadequate. Once the product has not been supplied, we do not know what to do. I can tell you we have not received any of the products for close to a month and our fishermen are suffering.”
At Dixcove, another fishing community in the Ahanta West District, chairman of the Upper Dixcove Landing Beach Committee, who is also the Chief Fisherman for Upper Dixcove, Nana Essel, said the distribution been marred with series of inefficiencies. According to him, upon assumption of office, the NPP promised fishermen of weekly premix fuel supply, but the promise was honoured somehow in January 2017, but took a dramatic turn in ensuing months.
He explained that “It’s very difficult for us. From January 2017, we were supplied either 2 times or 4 times weekly for each of the two communities. Shortly it came to 1 tanker one community. Today, it can take two to three weeks before we at Dixcove could get even one tanker. I as the chief fisherman and chairman of the landing beach committee had to travel to Axim before I could get premix to buy. Even at Axim, you will not get to buy it at the normal price. Fuel is now scarce so at Axim, there are people who buy and keep the product till it becomes scarce. When it gets to this stage, then they sell it to us at Gh700 instead of the Gh375 normal price. That’s what it is.”
He accused the Western Regional Landing Beach Committee of engaging in corrupt deals which has given rise to the low supply of the product.
“It’s the leaders at Sekondi. I was part of a delegation that went to our Premix Committee to place an order at Sekondi. They will in turn send our orders to Accra. So we asked them the reason why some landing beaches receive their orders but others don’t. We wanted to understand why it could take weeks before others will receive their orders. It was there we were told that all the requests from the region are sent as the landing beaches have requested, but it is when it gets there that some orders are taken out without prior notice. We told them we cannot understand and that we have made it our point to put it to the minister to explain. Sometimes, for about two months, there has not been any supply. It’s not easy my brother. It’s not”.
In the Jomoro district, one of the OMCs allegedly involved in this fuel diversions, Oando, diverted Premix Fuel meant for Half Assini to Tema on 2nd February this year.
Alinco Oil also diverted the product meant for the Landing Beach Committee at Beyin on the 18th and 26th of April this year to Tema.
Another consignment which was loaded by Alinco Oil into a truck with registration number AS-7937-C on 26th April, found its way back to Tema instead of Benyin. Fishermen in the area also xpressed their disappaointment at the handling of the product.
One of the Chief Fishermen told Citi News that “fishermen are no longer in charge of the sale of premix. It has been taken away from us to the boys. They are now selling it. Fishermen are really suffering. Just look at our canoes lying idle. They have politicized the sale of the product. That’s what the NPP is doing. Their boys have taken over the sale of the product. Fishermen are really suffering. My subjects are really suffering. I have a canoe myself, but how I struggle to get the product, and it’s not easy”.
One of the frustrated fishermen suggested that, the alleged fraudulent distribution of the product has been as a result of the lack of specific Oil Marketing Companies selected to deliver the product to specific landing beaches.
“We went to a meeting in Accra. At this meeting, we proposed that every landing beach committee should be assigned a specific oil marketing company that will be in charge of the supply to a particular landing beach. This we suggested will help the committees to place orders as and when they need the product. The answer we got from the National Premix Landing Beach Committee was that they will not assign any specific OMC to any specific landing beach, and that they will be in charge of the allocation of the OMCs”.
He continued that “since then, that is what we have seen them do. It really worries us. If we could get to know that it is Goil, Star Oil etc, that is supplying the product, we could have placed orders as and when we need it, and at what quantity. As we speak, no landing beach committee member can tell when you they are going to take the next delivery”.
Over 200 instances of pre-mix fuel diversions recorded in 2017
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.