Fuel Shortage Hits Accra

A long queue of vehicles for petrol at a Total Filling station in Accra.  Photo.  Maxwell  K. BilsonA number of fuel filling stations in the Accra metropolis have run out of petroleum products, especially the ‘Super’ which is the preferred choice of many drivers.

At stations where ‘The Super’ is available, vehicles have formed long queues to be served with the product.

The situation was chaotic in some of the stations, with drivers struggling for their turn.

Interestingly, some of the drivers instead of joining the queue had parked their vehicles closer to the fuel stations and using containers to fill their vehicles.

This situation created long queue of gallons to add up to the already chaotic scenario.

Attendants of most of the stations visited by The Ghanaian Times claimed the stock they were serving was received earlier before the crisis this week, while those without, said they were out of stock and were waiting to be restocked.

However, in an interview, Ras Liberty Amewode, Communications Officer at the Ministry of Energy, said “the situation was uncalled for since there is enough stock in the country”.

He said when the issue came up this week, the sector Minister summoned officials of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and the Bulk Oil Distributors Companion (BDCs) to a meeting at which he was assured of enough stock in the country.

Mr. Amewode believed the situation could be attributed to panic buying, since there were two news bulletins early this week about fuel price increases which could have triggered that.

He recalled the news which broke out early this week that there could be fuel price increases by the end of the month, coupled with the announcement by the Chamber of the BDCs that they were not able to raise letter of credit from their bankers to import fuel products.

Mr. Amewode stressed that the two news items might have been the cause, since some of the petrol filling stations might be hoarding to maximize their profit when the increase really come-off.

He said the BDCs also did not help things when their announcement coincided with the speculation of the price increases.

Mr. Amewode assured motorists that, the ministry was monitoring the situation and would not hesitate to step in at the appropriate time to put matters in order.

Responding to the issue of the BDC’s being owed, he said, there was an audit currently on-going to determine the right amount to be paid them, saying that had delayed the payment.

The Chief Executive of the Chamber of the BDCs, Mr. Senyo Hosi, said the government owed them GHC1.5 billion and until that money was paid to allow them to settle international suppliers, the situation would linger on.

Mr. Hosi noted that the BDCs could not buy because the banks were unwilling to make credits available since his outfit was “heavily indebted” to them.

He indicated that they have had discussions with government on Tuesday and the latter had shown commitment to resolve the situation as soon as possible.

“Petrol has a little less than three days accessible stock, hoping to improve upon it to increase it to about six days,” he said, adding that diesel has just six days of fuel.

“In my opinion, you don’t solve simple problems with sophisticated solutions” and further advised that government stopped the subsidies while making some payments to the banks to enable the BDCs bounce back to business, he emphasised. By Lawrence Markwei

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