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11.03.2009 Regional News

FUEL SHORTAGE HITS KUMASI... But dealers rule out conspiracy against gov`t

By Issah Alhassan, Kumasi - Ghanaian Chronicle
FUEL SHORTAGE HITS KUMASI... But dealers rule out conspiracy against gov`t

THE NATIONAL Petroleum Authority (NPA), under the instruction of the government, has reduced the prices of petroleum products – petrol, diesel, kerosene, etc. - but drivers and other fuel consumers in the Kumasi metropolis, are yet to feel the positive impact of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government's social intervention policy.

This is because the product is not available for sale in most filling stations in the city, as a result of what people perceive to be an artificially-created shortage, leaving drivers and fuel consumers in the metropolis frustrated.

The NDC government, under President Mills, on Thursday March 5, fulfilled one of its major promises made to the people of Ghana, during the electioneering campaign, to significantly reduce petroleum prices by announcing a 5-10 per cent reduction in prices of petroleum products, during the presentation of the 2009 Budget.

Consequently, the NPA, the body responsible for the regulation of petroleum products in the country, announced new prices for the products, with a gallon of petrol, which was sold at GH¢3.69 now selling at GH¢3.51, while diesel, which was previously sold at GH¢4.00 is now going for GH¢3.89

Other products such as Kerosene, Premix fuel and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) have also been reduced accordingly.

However, the effects of the reduction in the prices are still yet to be felt by consumers, as there is shortage in supply at the various filling stations in the metropolis, raising speculations that the dealers had intentionally decided to hoard the products, in order to create an artificial shortage thereby making the government of the NDC unpopular.

Even though opponents of the government have played down the significance of the reduction, describing it as a flash in the pan, commercial drivers and other fuel consumers in the Kumasi metropolis are complaining bitterly about the unavailability of the product, with some accusing the dealers of creating a “cosmetic” shortage, in order to hike the prices.

But, the Managing Director of the Asafo Goil Filing Station, Mr. George Ayisi-Boateng, a founding member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has denied the claim, explaining that the shortage was a genuine one, which cannot be averted by dealers of the product.

Speaking to The Chronicle in a telephone interview, Mr. Ayisi-Boateng said when speculation became rife that the government was going to announce the reduction of petroleum prices in the 2009 Budget, suppliers became very cautious about stockpiling the products, for fear that there was going to be a drastic reductionm as promised by the President during his campaign for the 2008 electionsm which would eventually lead to losses on the part of retailers.

As a result, many suppliers refused to lift more of the products from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), thus creating a shortage in the supply chain.

Mr. Ayisi-Boateng, however, pledged that once the new prices had been announced, and were below the expectations of retailers and many Ghanaians, the supply of the product would soon be in abundance.

He further ruled out any sabotage on the part of petroleum dealers, and said the decision not to lift more oil was made to avoid losses.

The NPP Founding Member, however, chastised President Mills for failing to keep to his promise, to drastically reduce the prices of the product to ease the burden on the ordinary citizen, adding that President Mills failed to do the necessary economic analyses before making such a promise.

He, therefore, called on the President to do the honorable thing by humbly coming out to apologise to Ghanaians for taking the people for a ride.

“If President Mills says he is a devout Christian, he should in humility come out to render an apology for deceiving Ghanaians, after all, his predecessor, former President Kufuor, once publicly rendered an apology, after realising that he unjustifiably criticised former President Rawlings over the appointment of ministers,” he stressed.