Huge volumes of impounded fuel, worth about 400 million cedis, which were placed under police guard at a yard near the Tema offices of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) have gone missing.
The fuel, comprising 17 drums of diesel, 25 large containers of premium petrol and 9000 liters of diesel, was impounded by officials of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), National Security and the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and placed under police guard.
But to the amazement of the officials, nothing was found in the yard the next day when they went there to retrieve the fuel for laboratory testing at TOR, although the two policemen (names withheld) detailed to guard the items were still at post until the following day when the officials arrived there.
According to Mr. Frank Authur, an official of the NPA, who accompanied the team to the yard, it had earlier acted on a tip-off which led to the seizure of the products from fuel dealers believed to be part of a fuel smuggling syndicate.
He said the move also formed part of on going exercise to stop the diversion of fuel, particularly pre-mix fuel, to unauthorized destinations.
Giving details of the incident, Mr. Authur said on July 11, the team, acting on a tip-off, went to the yard near the Tema Steel Works Road and close to the DVLA where it found the products.
He said the team quickly informed the Tema Regional Police to protect the products, since it was late in the night.
Mr. Authur said when the team got there the next day, nothing was found in the yard and, therefore, the Tema Regional Police was informed and the two policemen were arrested.
He said in earlier operations, more than 300 million cedis worth of fuel products had been seized and indicated that the operations would continue to ensure that the practice was ended.
On his part, the leader of the National Security team (name withheld) confirmed the story, saying, “It was strange for the products to have gone missing.”
“When we found the fuel products, we went to the Tema Police to inform them about the discovery and they detailed two of their men to guard them overnight,” he explained.
The official said when the team got there the next day (July 12, 2006), there was nothing in the yard and the police were informed to pick the two policemen who were on guard duty that night.
The official said the exercise was part of a series of exercises which the National Security was undertaking, together with the NPA and TOR security, to stop the practice of fuel diversion.
He described the situation as serious, saying, “In an earlier exercise, we arrested seven people who have presently been granted bail by the Tema Regional Police”.
When contacted, an official of the Tema Regional Police said it was waiting for the National Security to make its statement to enable the police to do a thorough investigation.
Meanwhile, the two policemen have been bailed and are going about their normal duties as night patrol guards.