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03.03.2009 General News

FUEL SMUGGLING INCREASES IN VOLTA REGION… Minister calls for action to stem trend

By Samuel Agbewode, Ho - Ghanaian Chronicle

The Volta Regional Security Council has expressed concern about the smuggling of petroleum products across the border to the Republic of Togo, and other negative practices that affect the economic growth of the country.

The Council has equally expressed concern over the indiscriminate use of motorbikes in some parts of the region for commercial purposes, without the payment of tax to the government. It has therefore decided to consult the Attorney General's Department for advice on how to handle the situation.

The Volta Regional Minister, Mr. Joseph Amenowode, who is also the Chairman of the Council, expressed the concerns when he met the media in Ho to introduce himself.

He disclosed that the Security Council would form a committee made up of the police, Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), who would be positioned at strategic locations, to monitor the activities of drivers who smuggle fuel across the border.

According to him, some drivers use double fuel tanks where they transport the fuel for sale, which made it difficult for the security personnel to arrest them.

Mr. Amenowode expressed satisfaction with the state of security in the region, but said a lot more needed to be done, particularly in the Anlo chieftaincy, Nkonya-Alavanyo and Tsito-Peki conflicts, in order to ensure total peace in the region.

He promised that the government would provide some funding to help complete the peace process in the Nkonya-Alavanyo dispute.

The Regional Minister however pointed out that the region could not achieve much in terms of development, without the total support of the media, adding that the media, being the fourth estate of the realm, played an important role in the governance of the country.

He urged the practitioners to work hard to promote the development agenda of the region.

Mr. Amenowode reminded media practitioners in the region to be objective in their reportage, as well as to direct their activities towards the developmental of the region.

He stressed that no good government would like to ignore the media or antagonize it, and emphasised that the good relationship that he called for, did not mean that the media should be in bed with the government, but ought to serve as check and balances that would strengthen the governance of the country.

Mr. Amenowode said the building of the region was a collective responsibility of all, and cautioned the media against, what he described as negative reportage.

He was however quick to point on the need to expose corrupt practices.

He further assured the journalists that his outfit would operate an open door administration, where journalists could easily cross check information that concerned government activities in the region, so as to avoid misinformation and speculation of issues that could tarnish the image of the region.

On education the new Regional Minister said poor academic performance continued to be one major issue that would be tackled, in order to change the trend.

Mr. Amenowode expressed his willingness to make the region one of the best in the country. He said the region could not move forward in the past eight years, because most of the assembly members and the Members of Parliament were with the opposition then, but now the situation had changed.

Touching on the creation of another region for the northern part of the Volta Region, Mr. Amenowode explained that he would personally support the idea if it was meant to promote development, noting that if it was to satisfy the ethnic interests of some people, he would object to it.