18 February 2013

Ghana: Petrol Tanker Drivers Fight Bost

Tamale — Fear has gripped most residents of Buipe in the Northern Region, as close to three hundred fully loaded fuel tankers are stranded at the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport (BOST) depot under the scorching sun.

At the moment, Buipe town is sitting on a time-bomb as a result of the hazardous way the tankers, which carrying highly inflammable products, are allowed to park along the main streets and within the community.

This follows a disagreement between the management of BOST and some tanker drivers over which acceptable measuring tool should be used in discharging or offloading the fuel.

Buipe is noted for the indiscriminate burning of bushes, burning of charcoal, and worst of all, the non-existence of a fire station in the whole of the Central Gonja District.

While the drivers are demanding the use of a "T-Bar" to measure the fuel, the management of BOST also insists on using a "flow meter" to ensure transparency.

However, the tanker drivers, who accused the BOST management of always tampering with the flow meters to satisfy their selfish interest, alleged that they (drivers) always run at a loss anytime the flow meter was used to measure their fuel at the Buipe Depot.

According to the spokesperson for the frustrated tanker drivers, Nana Boakye Dwumfuor, the drivers were always blamed for the losses, and compelled by their employers or owners to bear the cost.

The fuel tanker drivers have since the last three weeks been stranded at the BOST depot, together with their mates. The majority of the drivers and their mates expressed disappointment at the management of BOST for taking what they termed as an "unreasonable" stance to deprive the entire Northern Ghana of access to fuel.

The raging confusion between the drivers and BOST management at Buipe has resulted in fuel shortages across the region.

The angry drivers, who found it very difficult to get good parking spaces and had rather parked at the premises of some mosques and churches, as well as homes, told The Chronicle that they could not guarantee the safety of the people in Buipe, since the weather continued to be at boiling point.

Chanting "no T-bar, no discharging of fuel", the tanker drivers said the uncompromising position of the BOST management had forced them to sleep in their vehicles for two to three weeks to ensure the safety of their tankers.

They, however, complained bitterly about the inability of BOST and the Central Gonja District Assembly to build a befitting parking place for the tankers. The Chronicle discovered that the perilous way of parking the tankers had compelled school children to share the street with vehicles.

Around the Buipe Market, this reporter spotted a fire burning in the direction of the tankers, and alerted the drivers, who quickly put it off. The paper also discovered that most of the takers were parked under high tension poles, with others close to chop bars and homes.

The Assembly Member for the Buipe Electoral Area, Abubakari Yussif, in an interview with The Chronicle, appealed to the authorities and BOST management to consider the dangers the tankers posed to lives and properties in Buipe, and settle the issue amicably.

The District Chief Executive (DCE) for Central Gonja, Sualisu Be-Awuribe, described the situation as a security threat, and urged the parties to address the issue immediately.

He also unveiled plans by the assembly to construct a commercially viable modern state of the art cargo port in Buipe.

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