From Inusa Musah, Tema
If by Thursday May 17, 2018, the Union of the Ghana National Petroleum Tanker Drivers does not receive a positive response from the Energy Ministry on their complaints on the maltreatment Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) are meting out to their members, the Union would stage a sit-down strike to demonstrate against the Ministry.
In an ultimatum letter addressed to the sector Minister, Boakye Agyarko, dated May 9, 2018, and signed by George Teye Nyaunu, Union Chairman, the Minister’s memory was recalled to the directive President Nana Akufo-Addo gave him at Jubilee House, in August 2017, to ensure that the drivers’ genuine concerns over the OMCs disregard for the February 2004 Energy Commission Manual on Petroleum Products Transportation Delivery, Retail And Loss Control, was respected and adhered to.
The President’s directive to the Minister followed a meeting among the three – the President, Boakye Agyarko and the leadership of the Ghana National Petroleum Tanker Drivers Union – on the concerns of the drivers of the Union.
There are about 6,000 members in the Union, and more than half of them have not been paid salaries for years now, because the OMCs debit transporters, who hire the services of the drivers when they record delivery shortages at the retail points.
The transporters’ stance for not paying the salaries of their drivers is that they could not pay for the drivers’ delivery losses to the OMCs, and then pay salaries too.
The Tanker Drivers’ Union, on the other hand, is arguing that the losses their drivers make at the retail points are due to the underground dip, which most of the OMCs’ managers have ignored to measure before the fuel products are discharged.
On pages 7 and 8 of the 2004 Energy Commission Manual on Petroleum Products Transportation Delivery, Retail And Loss Control, they state, in parts: “On arrival of Bulk Road Vehicles (BRVs) at discharge points, underground dip should be measured before product is discharged.”
After measuring the underground dip, the Retail Manager, the manual went on, should measure the level of the product in the BRV with a T-bar to confirm or deny the level of the product as entered on the certificate of loading, and, in this case, the Tema Oil Refinery.
But these, George Teye Nyaunu, Ghana National Tanker Drivers’ Union Chairman, told The Chronicle, have been ignored by the OMCs, and so, when the drivers arrive at the retail points with the products, the fuel station managers strongly insist that the drivers discharge the fuel into the underground reservoir, where the losses are recorded, and then debited to the transporter, who passes the cost on to the driver.
Sometime last year, the timely intervention of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) Chief Executive Officer Hassan Tampuli soothed the heart of the union, on this same issue, and convinced them from embarking on a sit-down strike.
Following a tip-off, Hassan Tampuli sped to the union’s office in Tema, where the drivers, already dressed in red and prepared placards to demonstrate on the streets to commence a nationwide sit-down strike, to calm hearts down, promising the Union that he would remind the Minister of its concerns, and also meet with the transporters and OMCs to correct the anomalies.
Hitherto, the Union said, they were yet to feel the outcome of the NPA’s promised mediation, as the salaries of the drivers were yet to be paid, since the OMCs, too, have failed to go by the directives in the Energy Commission’s Petroleum Manual.
The Chronicle gathered from some petroleum tanker drivers, who carry fuel to Ghana’s landlocked countries, that they enjoy ‘temperature meter compensation’ so that when, due to evaporation, the product is reduced, the OMCs do not debit them (drivers) for any loss.
Sadly, petroleum tanker drivers in Ghana do not enjoy that compensation, and so, Mr Nyaunu said, flow meters are also contributing to the drivers’ losses at the discharging points.
“The Energy Ministry is very much aware of all these, but it is allowing the OMCs and BOST to starve us and our families. Our deadline is Thursday, and we hope to hear good news from the Minister, or Ghana should be ready for us, because we will lay down our tools,” George Teye Nyaunu said.
The consequence of their action is that most fuel stations would not take delivery of petroleum products from the Tema Oil Refinery or BOST, and that would cost production of goods and services across the country.