Fishermen in the Ekumfi District and the Mfantseman Municipality of the Central Region, are experiencing a severe shortage of premix fuel, a situation that has rendered most of them idle for several weeks.
This follows reports of massive diversion of premix fuel meant for fishermen to other parts of Tema for industrial purposes.
According to letters signed by the Chief Executive Officer of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and forwarded to the National Premix Committee continuously for eight months, the Central Region fell victim to the premix consignment diversions on four different occasions from April to July 2017.
The coastal belt of the Region starts from Komenda in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem Municipality area, through Winneba to Nyinyano in the Gomoa East District, but only two notable areas: the Ekumfi District and the Mfantseman Municipality suffered the unfortunate artificial shortage.
While the Ekumfi area had three of its consignments diverted, the Mfantseman area had one.
On April 18, 2017, a 13,500 litre truckload of premix fuel from the Tema Oil Refinery, of invoice number 6543, that was to be sent to the Ekum Mpoano in the Ekumfi District, was diverted to a place at Tema.
On 20th of April, a similar quantity of the product from TOR meant for the Landing Beach Committee of Ekumfi Narkwa, of invoice number 6019, was diverted to Senya Breku, another part of the Central Region.
Again, on July 25 this year, another 13,500 litres of premix fuel, of invoice number 662, also from TOR, that was meant for Ekumfi Imuna, found its way to Kpone in the Greater Accra Region.
The last was on July 20, when a similar amount of the product loaded from TOR, of invoice number 88895, that was supposed to be brought to the Saltpond Landing Beach Committee, was diverted to Manya Krobo in the Eastern Region.
When Citi News visited Ekumfi Narkwa to meet officials of the Landing Beach Committee, the Committee showed April 2017 invoices for the 4th and 27th of that month.
The secretary of the Committee, Kenneth Andoh, confirmed they were actually awaiting a consignment on April 20, but it never arrived, and they took it to mean the usual delays associated with the supply.
Mr. Andoh said, “I didn’t sign any consignment on the 20th or 21st of April, though we were expecting a consignment, but I didn’t get any explanation from anywhere”.
Asked about the last time fishermen had premix fuel at Ekumfi Narkwa, he indicated they have not been getting it for two weeks now.
At the Saltpond Nankesedo Landing Beach Committee, at the time of Citi News’ visit, some fishermen were seen holding gallons getting ready to go to the fuel station in the heart of Saltpond.
Oblivious of what the reality on the ground was, the fishermen had gone to the house of the Landing Beach Committee chairman’s residence, fuming over why they have not been getting the product.
They complained angrily that they have not been getting premix fuel for over two months now.
One of the angry fishermen and owner of three canoes, Opanyin Kofi Ansah, said, “We are really having a turbulent time as a result of this premix shortage. It is an indispensable input in our work, but it’s always in short supply”.
He said “Government should deal ruthlessly with all those smuggling the product for denying us of what is due us. We have planned of going to the MCE’s office to demonstrate. We are now spending extra money to buy other products to mix them for our machines.”
Confirming the fishermen’s frustration, the pump attendant of the Committee complained that, “Sometimes, we are firmly promised that the premix consignment is on its way, but we will wait for days, and nothing will come. It’s almost three months now, and we have had no premix here at Saltpond. It’s embarrassing to be told to wait for a consignment and it will not come”.
Contacts made to fishermen at Ekum Mpoano also confirmed that, the area has not been getting the product for close to three months.
The fishermen in all the four areas have been resorting to the use of a combination of other petroleum productions to power their outboard motors, at a cost three times the amount they would have spent on premix fuel.
There have been similar reports of artificial shortages in many coastal communities of the Western Region.
By: Joseph Ackon-Mensah/citifmonline.com/Ghana