14 February 2013

Ghana: National Security Worried Over Fuel Smuggling

The National Security Council Secretariat has expressed concern about the increasing rate of fuel smuggling across Ghana's borders to neighbouring countries.

The Council said security monitoring and co-ordination, since January, along the nation's border towns in the Volta, Upper East, Upper West, Brong-Ahafo and Western regions revealed the trend.

A statement issued by Mr. Mahama Ayariga, Minister of Information and Media Relations, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, explained that security surveillance had been intensified with a view to check the smuggling of the product to La Cote d'Ivoire, Togo and Burkina Faso.

The security operatives are mounting a special operation to prevent large quantities of fuel in containers, drums and false compartments of vehicles, from being smuggled out.

The security surveillance dubbed "Anti-Fuel Smuggling Exercise," has resulted in the seizure of significant quantities of fuel smuggled in jerry cans and petrol tankers.

The statement said operators of fuel filling stations in towns close to the borders are being closely monitored by the Anti-Fuel Smuggling Operation.

"The public is encouraged to assist the security agencies with information regarding such smuggling activities," the statement added.

In a related development William N-lanjerborr Jalulah reports from Bolgatanga that residents of the Upper East Region, whose machines run on petrol, are bearing the brunt of an artificial shortage of the commodity, following suggestions that prices of petroleum products were likely to go up if the government decides to remove subsidies by the middle or end of this month.

On Tuesday evening, managers of filling stations in the regional capital, Bolgatanga, instructed their attendants to shut down the fuel pumps and stop selling petrol to customers who had formed long queues to buy the commodity.

At about 7:56 p.m. on Tuesday, when this reporter visited the major filling stations, there were long queues, with frustration written on the faces of the customers.

At about 8:30 p.m., the managers instructed their attendants to shut down the pumps, which they did, and announced to the waiting customers that they had ran out of petrol.

Some of the filling stations visited include the main Total Filling Station near the Stanbic Bank, Goil Filling Station near the main taxi rank, and the Total Filling Station near Speed Link Restaurant.

On Wednesday, the filling station at the PWD on the Regional Hospital Road was operating in the early hours, but while customers were still queuing and buying the commodity, the manager appeared and instructed his staff to stop selling.

The situation has seriously affected economic activities in the region, as information available to The Chronicle from the Navrongo and Paga areas tell the same story. The most affected are motorbike users.

Some of the affected residents who spoke to The Chronicle expressed fears that if the situation did not change by the close of the week, they would not be able to go to work next week.

Some of the managers of the filling stations declined to speak on record. They also declined to give their identities. Meanwhile, petrol is being sold in 'litres' by the roadside at extraordinary prices to unsuspecting buyers.

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