One of the major policies that distinguish Ghana from her Eastern neighbours – Togo, Benin and Nigeria – is the strict regulation on the sale of petroleum products. In Togo, Benin and Nigeria it is common to see people selling petroleum products in bottles and gallons. This practice is forbidden in Ghana as it is only registered fuel stations that have the power to sell fuel to the public.
Ghana apparently took this decision because of the dangers associated with the sale of petroleum products in bottles and gallons by untrained members of the public. Any little spark can lead to huge explosion and associated destruction of lives and properties. Unfortunately, because of migration and the closeness of Ghana to these neighbouring countries, this bad practice of selling fuel in bottles is gradually being imported into the country.
Our information is that it has already started in the Volta Region and may gradually engulf the entire country if it is not nipped in the bud. The Chronicle is, therefore, happy that the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) has noticed the unfortunate development and is taking steps to stop the practice.
At their recent engagement with the media in Ho, the Volta Regional Manager of NPA, Mr Godwin Yaw Konu, cautioned motorists to stop buying petroleum products from unapproved retail outlets, such as table tops. According to him, such products, which are smuggled into the country through unauthorised routes, mainly from Togo, are adulterated and can damage vehicle engines.
He alleged that the petroleum products are put in gallons and conveyed mostly on motorbikes to their Ghanaian customers, who in turn fill the fuel in bottles for onward sale on table tops in Ghana. As we earlier noted, apart from the NPA not guaranteeing the quality of such petroleum products, the dangers associated with the practice is very dire.
The Chronicle is, therefore, advising the NPA to liaise with the police to arrest anyone seen selling petroleum products in gallons or bottles on the streets of villages and towns. Since it is possible that those engaging in these illegalities do not know they are committing a crime, though ignorance of the law cannot be an excuse, it is incumbent upon the NPA to also embark on education and sensitisation programmes along the border communities, for them to understand the hazardous nature of the act they are undertaking.
Fire outbreaks associated with petrol is always difficult to fight, even by the Ghana National Fire Service. As a country we must, therefore, not allow this practice to become widespread before any attempt is made to stop it. Until recently, the practice of ‘Okada’ was alien to the Ghanaian society. But we sat unconcerned when the practice was being imported into the country, to the extent that today Okada has now become a pain in the neck.
Even though the police have the backing of the law to stop it, the sheer number of motorbikes roaming our streets in the name of ‘Okada’ has overwhelmed them. At our traffic intersections, it is common to see police men and women looking on unconcerned, whilst these ‘Okada’ riders flout our traffic rules with impunity.
To avoid the repetition of this bad practice in the petroleum sector, we are calling the NPA to sit up by forming a formidable partnership with the police to arrest those flouting the law. Some of the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) add additional chemicals to make the fuel friendlier to the engines of our cars.
We must not, therefore, allow these table top sales of fuel, which according to the NPA itself, are most of the time adulterated, to destroy what these OMCs have put in place for years. In our opinion, the time for the NPA to act is now and they must not dare fail the nation.