The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers Ghana (COPEC) has charged the state to scale up punishments for companies and individuals who engage in all manner of fuel trade illegalities including diversion and adulteration to curb the menace and its attendant problems.
According to COPEC, the diversion and adulteration of fuel products, in particular, have reached alarming proportions in some parts of the country, a situation it finds destructive to consumers and to the state at large with regards to revenue mobilisation.
Speaking on Accra based radio station, 3 FM Thursday, the Executive Secretary of COPEC, Mr Duncan Amoah said the current punishment regime has not yielded the expected results and therefore should be reviewed and made stiffer to deter offenders and forestall disasters associated to their actions.
“The information we are picking is not very encouraging. Just as we stated some time ago, intelligence gathered suggests that a lot of these tanker yards dotted across the Tema – Kpone – Ashaiman enclave engage in all manner of illegal activities, including the mixtures of products so to obtain higher volumes in order to sell and make more money.
“Their operations pose great danger to consumer public and the government as an institution. The minimum specification standard which is the RON91 that Ghana accepts, you will get products that are of lower quality at these stations
“Unfortunately, the sanctions regime seems not have worked through well over the period and I think that the time has come that we will need to scale up the punishments a lot steeper to prevent some of these products find their way onto the Ghanaian market,” he remarked.
His comments come on the back of a reported explosion last Wednesday which involved about 15 bulk road vehicles at the Kpone enclave.
It unclear what might have caused the fire but COPEC suspects fuel adulteration.
COPEC in an earlier statement signed by Mr Duncan Amoah, therefore, called on the National Petroleum Authority and Ghana Standards Authority to immediately conduct an audit trail on all the products sent to the tanker yards and fuel stations.
In the interview monitored by ABC NEWS, Mr Amoah indicated that punishments should be made to include the immediate close-down and revocation of licences of fuel stations that are found culpable of illegal fuel activities.
“All these tank yards should be put under strict surveillance and possibly treated as bonded areas if such disasters will be forestalled.
“We need to up our game and whatever punishment that exists, for some of the stations that also buy these products, I think that the time has come where we do not just charge fines or penalty but some of these stations should be closed and licenses revoked immediately,” he said.
Mr Amoah further lauded the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) for doing “a very good work so far”.
But he does not agree with the fact that they have been able to curb fuel smuggling as they tout, indicating there are still a number of instances where illegal fuel finds its way into people’s tanks.
“As we speak, Marine Gas Oil which is meant for vessels, you will find some on the market. You will find products that are probably meant for fishing boats; I am talking of premix.
“These are things that we want to see the NPA, particularly clamp down heavily on, other than saying that they have been able to curb all instances of fuel smuggling. unfortunately, the facts on the ground will not support that position at all,” he stated.