Let’s find a lasting solution to premix diversion

Last year January (2017), premix fuel consignments loaded from the Tema Oil Refinery were not delivered to the intended destinations indicated on the Invoices and Returns of the Oil Marketing Companies – OMCs.

 In all instances although the product was documented to be bound for the Volta Region, they ended up in Accra according to reliable information. Premix oil diversion is a matter of concern to coastal communities because of the commodity’s importance to the fishing industry.

Stakeholders, after a crucial meeting over the matter, among other things decided that all premix fuel outlets in the country will be reviewed for compliance with standard requirements – and those that fall short will be closed down.

It therefore comes as welcome news that the Ministry for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has terminated its contract with some Oil Marketing Companies over their involvement in the diversion of premix fuel across the country.

Contracts of about 25 Oil Marketing Companies involved in the distribution of premix oil across the country have been terminated. According to the ministry the companies were found guilty of diversion, hence the decision to stop them from distributing the product.

This sends a strong signal that the NPA is not prepared to compromise on the distribution of premix fuel by unscrupulous middlemen whose only motive is profiteering.

The Executive Director of the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD), Senyo Hosi, has long advised scrapping the subsidy on premix fuel since such monies are only ending up in private pockets through diversion of the commodity meant for the country’s fisher-folk.

Government reportedly spends nearly GH¢200million to subsidise the commodity annually. Some inland fisher-folk have revealed that diversion of the commodity is a goldmine for political party executives, since it is often a political tool.

The rationale behind the subsidy is understandable, since it is meant to shore-up the ailing fishing industry; but its abuse by various political regimes makes one wonder whether government should continue to subsidise premix fuel, especially since it lines the pocket of a few individuals.

Terminating the contracts of those found culpable in diversion is good, but we need to address the commodity’s long-term distribution to fishing communities so that outboard motors can be fuelled for fishing purposes.

Stakeholders, together with the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture, need to deliberate on the way forward with premix fuel distribution.