It is a pleasant Wednesday morning in Accra. Today, an interview appointment I sought for so long has been approved.
I will be speaking to the dynamic duo behind the seismic transformation of the National Premix Fuel Secretariat to find out how they, together with the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development have managed to bring government’s expectation of a sanitized premix fuel sub-sector to fruition.
Thankfully, I’ve arrived just in time for the meeting, partly due to sparse vehicular traffic within the city.
Soon, I am seated in the waiting area ruminating over my questions for the interview –ensuring that they are tweaked just enough to draw the juiciest responses to the questions I had lined up. While at it, I took notice of the intense smell of wall paint which pervaded the air. Indeed, the secretariat had just been refurbished –an expansion to increase the number of offices and a full repainting to reflect the secretariat’s official colours of cream and blue.
“Good morning guys! Hope you are wonderful today?” the voice of the National Premix Committee Chairman, Nii Lante Bannerman, rang out amidst indistinct footfalls en route from the secretariats main entrance.
Shortly, I was asked into the office of the Chairman for the scheduled interview.
Tellingly pleased to have met again after quite a long time, we spoke mundanely for a few minutes just to ‘break the ice’ ahead of the interview.
Then in reaction to my first question on the impact of the Secretariat on the fisheries sector, he let rip: “At the onset of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo’s, administration in 2017, the government set an ambitious performance target for the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development.
The task was straightforward –to ensure that Ghana makes the most of the ocean and other water bodies by creating opportunities for fisherfolk and other allied enterprises to thrive through socio-economic growth.
To achieve this, the NPFS under the auspices the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development set sail in 2017 to actualise government’s vision for the sector.
Through its core mandate of Premix Fuel distribution and management, the leadership of the secretariat is demonstrating government’s avid commitment to ensuring that fishing communities experience pervasive communal development through the effective utilization of the 53% per cent funds derived from the sale of Premix Fuel in fishing communities across Ghana.
Led by the indefatigable Minister, Hon. Elizabeth Afoley Quaye and her able Deputy Minister, Hon. Francis Ato Cudjoe, we are delivering a new Premix Fuel Secretariat where magnificent leadership has curbed the muddle of malfeasance that once characterised premix fuel distribution and management.”
His claim of better management made me quiz further, and his response was:
“The monumental importance of fisheries in the growth of the local economy is fully acknowledged by the government, hence the seething resolve to support the sector and move it to loftier heights, together with stakeholders.
A noteworthy illustration of the gains made by the secretariat under its current leadership is the eradication of the malignant issue of Premix Fuel diversions and shortages that festered with reckless-abandon under the erstwhile government.” He said with such imperious confidence, of the incumbent administration’s achievement in the subsector.
In a separate exchange with the Administrator of the National Premix Fuel Secretariat, Nana Abrokwa A. Asare, he corroborated the assertions made by the Chairman saying:
“We have transformed what was a palpably inefficient Premix Fuel Secretariat to one that not only oversees the efficient and equitable distribution of Premix Fuel but also ensures beneficial utilization of funds derived from 53% of sale funds for the commodity.
As we speak, the excellent management of premix fuel is applauded generously around coastal communities where the commodity is improving livelihoods and setting up relevant infrastructure.
Indeed, for the first time in many years, the once perennial agitation for shortages of Premix Fuel has been curtailed.
The National Premix Fuel Secretariat under the Ministry of Fisheries remains true to its core mandate of ensuring constant and sufficient supply of Premix Fuel.
Aside from the undeniable spate of community development, the combined effort of the Ministry of fisheries and the National Premix Fuel Secretariat since 2017 has ensured a liberal and consistent supply of fishing input to fisherfolk.
The dusk of Premix fuel diversions, adulteration, shortages and barefaced appropriation of Premix Sale funds is conclusively over. A new dawn of exceptional management and accountability has arrived and will linger throughout this administrations mandate.” “He assured.
Manifestly, there is undeniable proof that Premix Fuel sale funds which had become go-to fund sources for nefarious party apparatchiks in fishing hubs around the country are now a thing of the past.
Instead of political party offices and other such arbitrary uses, today Premix Fuel sale funds are ensuring that simple yet crucial infrastructure is springing up everywhere the people have a verifiable need for such.
Through the visionary leadership that currently prevails at the Secretariat, the Premix Fuel sub-sector has attained a paradigm shift that has confounded even the most ardent naysayers.
Buoyed by a seething desire to mirror government’s vision of a more productive Fisheries sector, the Ministry together with the secretariat has worked diligently in the last three and half years to achieve: A conclusive cessation of Premix fuel diversion incidents; A functional state-of-the-art tracking device to monitor trucks and avert diversions; Efficient collaboration with NPA for smooth management and distribution of premix fuel; Restructured landing beaches in all inland regions; And an increased fund allocation for rural projects in fishing communities; The integration of Regional Coordinating Councils(RCCs) and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) in the management and distribution chain has also accounted for the efficient management of the Premix Fuel. Unprecedented grassroots infrastructural development made possible through the effectual utilization of Premix Fuel sale funds.
To better appreciate the professed mammoth impact of the Premix Fuel commodity on communities around the country, I was given an opportunity to join an internal monitoring team for an assessment tour of projects funded by the 53% derived from Premix Fuel sale.
Every community visited had a project either freshly completed or under construction with community dwellers full of gratitude for the impact of the completed projects on their livelihoods.
The general consensus from a potpourri of random interviews of community dwellers and traditional leaders gave credence to the Premix Fuel Secretariats’ claim of pervasive impact in communities around the country. Physical evidence was corroborated proportionately by the intended beneficiaries of the projects-community dwellers.
While government policy to plough 53% of Premix Fuel sale funds back into fishing communities for projects has been in place since 2009 and implemented by successive governments, community dwellers in the coastal communities visited unanimously concede that the prudent utilization of Premix Fuel sale funds since 2017, is fostering unprecedented growth and contributing to rural development through relevant projects ranging from health facilities, sheds, market – stalls, lavatories and more in fishing enclaves around the country.
In the Western Region, Jomoro boasts a newly completed shed which the MCE for the area concedes will benefit the community immensely.
In the lively Half Asini community, resources derived from the Premix Fuel fund have helped erect a concrete footbridge –much to the delight of the community.
Jayway Wharf has a nearly completed delivery ward that should help improve the operational capacity of the CHPPS compound in the community.
At Princess Akatakyi, a six-room CHIPPS compound facility is nearing completion with resident’s hopeful it will improve access to basic healthcare.
In Lower Dixcove, funds derived from the premix fund have curbed flooding through the construction of a modern drain. Similarly, a decent toilet facility has recently been completed.
In Tema, Manhian arrangements are far advanced to complete a school hostel facility that was inexplicably abandoned by the previous administration. When completed, the facility is expected to accommodate about 900 students.
From Dixcove came a comprehensive appraisal of the ministries’ impact in the last three and a half years.
The Paramount Chief of Upper Dixcove Traditional Council Obrempong Hina Dekyi XIV painted a vivid picture of how well his community has benefitted from the incumbent administration.
In an effusive speech at his palace, the monarch noted that fishermen in the community now had an abundant supply of Premix Fuel to power their canoes en route to fishing expeditions.
“We are extremely grateful to the President, His Excellency Nana Addo Danqua Akkuffo Addo and the Sector Minister for providing us with a landing beach that allows for large vessels to birth here. We are also grateful for the sea defence wall which the government has begun constructing after it had been abandoned for years. The project that been of immense benefit as the community was on the brink of being washed away by the turbulent ocean.
This we believe is a demonstration that the government cares about fisher folks and is truly committed to improving their livelihoods.” He said.
In Kafodzizi, a one-storey community centre /conference hall is nearing completion.
The historic town, Elmina boasts the most imposing project- with a 20-stall, single-storey building project progressing steadily.
Still, in Elmina, a 12-seater toilet facility is nearing completion in Mumford community where residents are highly expectant.
In Nyayano, Central Region, a sprawling landing beach shed is completed and helping provide an enabling environment for net mending and other related activities.
Ketu South Township has an impressive Doctors quarters facility that should boost the morale of health workers.
In Kwame – Dwamena, Kwawu-Afram Plains North District, a solar system has been installed for a CHPPS compound that had been without electricity for years. According to the resident midwife and other respondents, the system has improved the capacity of the facility to serve the community.
In Kwahu – Adawso works on a market- the stall is progressing steadily. The facility which has seven sheds and six stalls are expected to improve commerce in the community.
In the mountain wedged, Kotoso – Nswano community, there is now a modern toilet facility built to alleviate the plight of community dwellers that hitherto resorted to the uncivilised option of open- defecation.
Around the country, there are scores of ongoing projects that the leadership of the secretariat is hopeful will inspire further development in communities where they are sited.
The National Premix Secretariats is however without challenges of its own. There are still nefarious elements who still hoard Premix Fuel in a bid to create artificial shortages. this has led to the recent acquisition of a fully automated software has been tipped to solve the challenge and help guarantee fast, efficient and transparent Premix Fuel administration and distribution.
Similarly, The practice where fishermen use Premix Fuel meant for powering outboard motors to power generators for the prohibited Light Fishing is a challenge that MOFAD is keen to phase out.
The Sale of Premix Fuel to persons other than canoe-owning fishermen is also an enduring menace that the secretariat is confident will be defeated with the use of technology.
In adherence to a directive from the Economic Management Team (EMT), led by the Vice President Mahmud Bawumia, the NPFS has embarked on a digitization drive aimed at ensuring impregnable transparency. Specifically, Only Fishermen with Cards can access the Product.
Indeed, most of the successes churned by the Secretariat were initial challenges until visionary leadership and a drive for excellence altered the narrative.
Realizing the pivotal role played by the fisheries sector in national life, The National Premix Committee (NPFC) was established by the government of Ghana in July 2009 to supervise the administration and distribution of premix fuel- a hugely subsidized petroleum product required by fishermen to power outboard fishing boat motors.
To set the stage for effective management, Landing Beach Committees (LBCs) was consequently established at various landing beaches to empower fishermen to operate Premix Fuel stations at landing beaches. A National Premix Secretariat (NPS) was also created to service the NPFC. This meant the allotment and distribution of Premix Fuel became the core responsibility of the NPS who would then work closely with the Tema Oil Reﬁnery (TOR) to ensure the unrestrained flow of the commodity to fishermen around the country.
TOR refines and loads the product into tankers of the assigned Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) for distribution to the various Landing Beach Committees.
To improve a lot of fisher folks, a review of the supply chain was conducted in 2009. This led to a reconstitution of the Premix Fuel secretariat, streamlining of the supply chain and change of the role of Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) in the distribution process. Subsequently, the fisher groups forming Landing Beach Committees were allowed to manage the Premix Fuel sale points at the landing beaches and use 53% of the proceeds as a source for community development projects.
According to the leadership of the National Premix Fuel Secretariat, the years ahead promises to be eventful. With plans already far advanced for the completion of more projects before the end of 2020.
The secretariat considers the overwhelming plaudits reverberating from across the country as a testament that the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development is making an undeniable impact in fishing communities.
The secretariat remains committed to raising the bar even higher; to further inspire growth and inclusive development.
Already, there is an ambitious itinerary of initiatives earmarked for 2021 that should place the sector even more firmly on the path to achieving the government’s expectation of a robust, thriving fisheries sector.
Samuel Owusu-Aduomi is a Communication Specialist with special interest in Development Communication. He has considerable experience in Print Journalism and Public Relations.