Fisher folks in the Krachi West and East Municipal Assemblies in the Oti Region are being denied access to Premix fuel by faceless individuals who have hijacked the Premix Fuel markets for personal gains.
These faceless individuals, tagged as political party activists, purchase the relatively scarce product in large quantities, hoard it, and later sell the fuel at exorbitant prices to the fishermen who are most in need of the fuel to power their canoes for the purposes of fishing.
These were uncovered during an investigation by Public Agenda recently in the aforementioned Municipalities in the Oti Region of Ghana.
The investigation was a follow-up on a complaint made through the Advocacy & Legal Advice Centre (ALAC), a subsidiary of the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) by a concerned native of the area.
Indeed, Public Agenda’s probe revealed that political party activists as well as men and women who are not affiliated with the ruling party and are deeply involved in the hoarding and reselling of Premix Fuel in these areas.
Political activists take Centre stage in Premix Fuel sale
Speaking to Public Agenda in the Hausa Language, Iliasu Musah, a resident of Kete- Krachi in the Krachi West District, who assists in the sale of the fuel, said he is a member of the ruling party and was selected to help sell the product to the fishermen. He told this Paper that he only assists in selling the product but does not buy and hoard. However, he could not establish whether or not people are hoarding and reselling the product.
He noted,“ What I can tell you is that the fuel does not come frequently that’s why you see a lot of people here with their gallons; most of them are canoe owners as far as I know…, so I don’t know whether they are going to use it for their canoes or going to sell it.”
A licensed chemical seller, Mr Tetteh Teglah, popularly known as TT, who resides close to the landing beach at Kete- Krachi was fingered by some fishermen as one of the hoarding ‘kingpins.’ Public Agenda was informed that TT buys the product in large quantities in connivance with some political activists and later sells it at exorbitant prices to the fisher folks. When contacted by Public Agenda, TT denied the allegation, insisting that he only buys the product for his personal use and not for resale. When probed further he admitted having some of the products in store but it was not meant for sale.
At both Krachi East and Krachi –West Municipal Assemblies, our investigation revealed that a 25litres gallon popularly known as the ‘kuffour gallon’ is sold at a highly subsidized price of 85 Ghana Cedis at the landing beaches. However, it was uncovered during the week-long investigation that, people who buy and hoard the product later sell the 25litres gallon at a whopping 250 Ghana cedis to the fishermen.
The fishermen told Public Agenda that they are compelled to buy it at the price because it is cheaper as compared to buying Petrol at the pump and diluting it with Engine oil to power their Canoes.
As suzy, a resident of Keta- Krachi put it, “The alternative is that you either buy at the said price or you go to the filling station and buy petrol, dilute with Engine oil and use it. This mixture is very expensive compared to the direct buy.”
Nana Kyekie, a former Member of the Landing Beach Committee(LBC) and Chairman of the Canoe and Fishermen Association in Dambai in the Krachi- East Municipality bemoaned the underhand dealings in the Premix sale.
Nana Kyekie alleged that Market queens in both Kete- Krachi, and Dambai are deeply involved in the premix fuel deals.
He recommended that in order to avert such fraudulent deals, the government should make Premix Fuel available in various Filling stations to enable consumers to buy directly from the pumps.
Averting the underhand dealings
When presented with the findings of the investigation, the Oti Regional Coordinating Council indicated to Public Agenda it has taken note of the incessant complaints and is taking steps to salvage the situation.
In an interview with Public Agenda, the Oti Regional Minister, Mr Joshua Makubu submitted that they were going to inaugurate LBCs to take charge of the distribution of the products when it arrives.
Mr Makubu told Public Agenda, “obviously, I will be part of the process, then we will give them[LBCs] the clear guidelines as to how they are going to deal with it. One of the reasons that informed our decision to change most of the old ones has to do with this issue of the challenges in the premix sector and we don’t want to have such challenges.”
The Minister noted that one of the fundamental principles and qualifications to continue to function as an LBC is to ensure that whatever product is brought to you is actually sold to only the fisher folks and no any other person, adding,“If we begin having any other suspicion of you diverting or people coming to buy from you and hoard then we will just stop you.”
The Minister continued …” And as you saw in Krachi west, we are doing our best to make sure that the product goes to the fisher folks. When the fisher folks get it, definitely it will come back to impact positively on us because it is the same fish they sell to the same community.
Membership Cards at Krachi West
In the Kete- Krachi in the Krachi West Municipal Assembly, Fisher folks have been issued with Identification Cards which they use to purchase the product. The move according to the Assembly is to prevent non-members from accessing the fuel.
MCE ensures sanity at the landing beach
When Public Agenda visited the Landing Beach at Kete-Krachi, it was observed that the Municipal Chief Executive of the Krachi West, Mr Emmanuel Kajal Jalulah, was at the sales point to ensure that the products were sold to the right people. He took the Membership identification cards from the fishermen, called them one after the other and ensured that they got the fuel to purchase.
Krachi East MCE corroborates the findings
|On his part, the Municipal Chief Executive of Krachi East Municipal Assembly, Hon. Francis Okesu, corroborated Public Agenda’s findings, saying, “the issue of hoarding is something that is very prevailing, and what I have observed is that all those along the fishing communities, men, women, and children are actively involved in it.” Hon. Okesu added, “when the product comes, they come and tell you they are buying it for their husbands who have gone fishing. So invariably those who are able to one way or the other get enough to buy, when they go, they resell it to their fellow fishermen at very exorbitant prices. At the time of conducting this interview with the MCE, he indicated that he had put in place an interim oversight committee comprising representatives from the National Investigation Bureau(NIB), the Municipal Director, the Police, Fire Service, and the Navy to ensure that the right people have access to the product. |
In March this year. Hon. Moses Anim, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, emphasized the relevance of Premix fuel in sustaining the fishing activities in the country. He said an automation system will help improve data on fishers, determine the actual premix consumption, monitor the distribution and sale of premix fuel, reduce the complex payment processes and eliminate premix fuel diversions. The provision of the automated system according to Hon. Anim, is part of the Government’s digitalization agenda to improve effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery, adding that automating premix fuel distribution forms an integral part of the Ministry’s (MoFAD) strategy to modernize the fisheries sector to enhance its contribution to national development.