The government needs to act quickly to resolve concerns raised by striking gas tanker drivers, which is threatening to negatively impact on gas supply and prices across the country.
Members of the Ghana National Tanker Drivers Association (GNTDA) begun a sit-down strike on Monday, August 1, due to a ban on LPG stations under construction since 2017.
The ban by the National Petroleum Authority, which followed the 2017 Atomic Junction gas explosion that resulted in the death of seven persons, has stalled over US$600million worth of investments according to LPG marketing companies,.
While they claimed government has failed to give tangible reasons for the ban on LPG stations under construction, they said LPG Marketing Companies (LPGMCs) that contracted loans from banks to set up the stalled gas refilling stations are suffering.
The strike is starving the LPG market of roughly 845 metric tonnes on daily basis, says Nana Amoasi VII, Executive Director of Institute for Energy Security (IES).
It is therefore feared that if government fails to act quickly, those with stocks may want to cash-in on the situation by increasing price because of the squeeze in supply.
Meanwhile, Bulk Distribution Companies have served the indication of adjusting prices upward in the coming days.
“The freeze on some ongoing projects and new LPG retail sites is rather depressing accessibility, and also imposing financial and operational strain on the market players,” the energy expert and traditional leader lamented.
He said the strike action could impact negatively on prices of LPG in the country, worsening the already high LPG prices amid the hard economic times been faced by Ghanaians.
The sit-down strike by the GNTDA, seems to have energised the LPG Marketing Companies and Ghana LPG Operators Association (GLIPGOA) to also follow suit in laying down their tools since last Monday, thereby leaving all LPG outlets across the country non-operational, and consumers stranded.
Meanwhile, the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers Ghana, (COPEC) claims that the ban has led to about an 11 percent reduction in volumes for the operators over the past one year instead of a projected 15 percent increase year on year.
“Our checks indicate a good number of stations with legal permits under construction at various stages of completion had been put on a freeze following the atomic gas explosion by NPA.
“Several years down the line and this ban is yet to be lifted, thereby leaving the various companies that had invested heavily in the construction of these retail points heavily debt-distressed as they are constantly harassed by their banks and other financial entities that had advanced various loans to put up these stations,” COPEC’s Executive Secretary, Duncan Amoah, said.
He added that efforts by actors within the LPG space, the LPGMC and the GLIPGOA, and the Ghana national tanker drivers union to get these biting issues resolved have all proven futile as authorities do not seem to understand the pressures these operators are going through following from the ban which squeezes operators who also are hardly able to meet financial commitments to the drivers.
“We are currently inundated with calls from obviously stranded consumers who depend on these outlets seeking answers which we don’t have.
We call on the National Petroleum Authority under the new and able leadership of Dr. Mustapha Hamid to ensure a speedy resolution of the deadlock between the operators and authorities to ensure the immediate reopening of these outlets across the country,” he urged.