Chaos Over Fuel Shortage
There were chaotic scenes at some filling stations in Accra yesterday as motorists, especially commercial drivers, suffer the pangs of a biting fuel shortage in the country.
While some filling stations had anxious motorists lounging due to the winding queues, others were bereft of vehicles as prominent “no petrol” signboards stood ominously.
Long queues stretched out onto the streets, scenes which many Ghanaians could not remember witnessing in the past eight years.
At the receiving end were commuters, most of whom now spent more time waiting for vehicles to transport them home after a hard day’s toil at their places of work.
DAILY GUIDE’s trip around town showed the acute shortage covered all parts of the nation’s capital.
When President John Evan Atta Mills was asked by Voice of America (VOA’s) Shaka Ssali, in an interview yesterday on the issue, he said, “we came to meet certain challenges in the area of the economy” and that his government found it difficult to even get letters of credit.
But commercial drivers at Kaneshie, Odorkor, Mallam, Lapaz, Achimota and other places in Accra are pointing fingers at the government for being responsible for the shortage which is grinding the economy to a halt.
DAILY GUIDE found the same situation at Nungua, Teshie, La, Osu, Nima, Kwame Nkrumah Circle and Kokomleme where fuel attendants waved their hands to signal the non-availability of the commodity even before motorists entered their premises.
Some of the attendants refused to comment on the shortage preferring to say, “We would sell if the commodity was available.”
Amos Coffie, a taxi driver, plying between Achimota and Circle, expressed regrets for voting the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to power, saying during the New Patriotic Party (NPP) era, such scenes were rare.
Anas Mohammed, a trotro driver, who complained of a drop in daily sales, said he never voted for the NDC since he knew they could not deliver.
Nii Armah Ansah, a non-commercial driver, also charged the Mills-led government to sit up.
Alex Kofi Mensah Mould, Executive Secretary of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), yesterday sought to downplay the severity of the fuel shortage in the media, pointing at bad weather on the high seas as a factor that had hampered the speedy transportation of the commodity to Ghana.
Checks by this paper at the Tema Oil Refinery also revealed that the six-month stock of oil left by the past administration had been exhausted.
The paper also gathered that the shortage was due to the unwillingness of the oil marketing companies to import the commodity because the price on the local market was non-lucrative.
Another factor contributing to this situation was that while the Government of Ghana had wanted to lift the commodity straight from Nigeria’s oil fields into the country, the Nigeria Government had also maintained that the lifting should be carried out through an indigenous Nigerian company, in order to cream off some revenue to the state.
Aba Lokko, Public Relations Manager of TOR, told Kojo Oppong Nkrumah of Joy FM that it was only the southern sector of the country that was experiencing the shortage due to a number of factors.
Even though the Residual Catalytic Cracking Unit (RCCU) of the refinery was shut down for six months for regular maintenance, the procedure was repeated barely a week after operations commenced at the instance of its engineers to enable them to carry out full maintenance works to ensure that the refinery operated at full capacity.
This, Mrs. Lokko said, was partly accountable for the shortage.
She also stated that TOR had ceased supplying fuel to 10 out of some 56 oil marketing companies because “they owe us so much”, while scheduled imports by TOR also delayed.
Mrs. Lokko however assured the public that engineers were working hard to get the plant back at full capacity.
“We are working as fast as we can, not too long we will be back,” she assured.
By Samuel Boadi & Charles Nixon Yeboah