Deputy Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Francis Kingsley Ato Cudjoe has refuted allegations that his outfit is selling premix fuel to fishermen on party lines.
Some fishermen say officials in charge of selling premix fuel sell it mostly to pro-NPP fishermen who hoard the product and sell it to the rest of them at outrageous prices.
This they say is responsible for the shortage of premix fuel currently being experienced in the country.
But the Deputy Minister says such claims are untrue.
“I heard the story that I’m directing all premix to my hometown. Can I send all the premix in Ghana to my hometown? No! My people also complained that even though their MP is a Minister, they don’t get it but other constituencies around us get it. The truth of the matter is that premix is in shortage now and we’re not getting them from abroad so as and when they come from abroad, it will be made available to them,” he said.
There has been a shortage of premix fuel for the past three months which fishermen lament is affecting them negatively.
According to them, the shortage is caused by the officials at the Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministry who sell the product to their party members.
Roland Nii Amu Tetteh, one of the affected fishermen in a Citi News interview complained that the continuity of the alleged practice can cause confusion between the fisherfolk.
“They are playing politics with the fuel because usually when you go and buy the product, you will hear people say they are NPP members and so they should be served first before we the others, so it has become political. Everyone is complaining about it, it turned into a fight the last time because the fuel was sold to a group of NPP guys instead of directly to the fishermen, and when we went to buy they sold it to us at a higher price,” he stated.
Distribution of premix to be digitized
The shortage of premix fuel has been a major issue in Ghana over the years.
For this reason, Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia in July 2019 announced that government has begun processes to digitize the distribution of both premix fuel and fertilizer to address the confusion that characterizes the distribution process.
“We will implement the digitization process in the distribution of premix in Ghana and we hope to extend it to fertilizer next year as well,” said the Vice President.
The National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) Parliamentary candidate for Bortianor-Ngleshie Amanfro, Alexander Akuoko, in August 2019 urged the government to eliminate middlemen in the distribution of premix fuel to fishing communities to avert diversion.
Speaking to Citi News, he argued that the desire by these middlemen to make profit influences the diversion of the subsidized product.
Mr. Akuoku insisted that the provision of premix fuel for fisherfolk was not a profit-making venture and did not need middlemen.
“It is not about profit-making. If it was about profit-making I don’t think the government would take time to go through that process. It is because the government wants to help fisherfolk to make sure they go on fishing regularly. So if you are helping people, you don’t bring in people who are profit-oriented,” he said.
2017 premix fuel diversions
In November 2017, Citi News reported on the massive diversions of premix fuel loaded from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR).
The situation resulted in a joint action by the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and the National Premix Fuel Committee (NPFC) that led to the formulation of a six-point resolution to sanitize the premix industry.
On the back of this, some Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) were cited in the alleged premix fuel diversions and demands were made to prosecute these companies.
However, Francis Cudjoe dismissed those calls, saying that although the Fisheries Ministry initially blacklisted all the trucks cited, later investigations have shown that most of them were only re-routing, something mistaken by the media for diversions.