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16.10.2009 Feature Article

Politics of Fuel Supply

By Graphic
Author: Yaw Boadu-AyeboafohAuthor: Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh
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For as long as we are unable to import crude oil and get the Tema Oil Refinery in operation, the supply of petroleum products would not be certain.

There would be periodic shortages and it is imperative that government officials managing information in the fuel sector are prudent in the management of such information.

So far, government has not demonstrated any sincerity in sharing with Ghanaians the problems confronting the sector.

Indeed, the ready alibi, any time there is shortage of fuel products, that some oil marketing companies have been blacklisted, does not make sense since these same firms are seen selling those products as soon as the situation stabilises.

More important, the oil marketing companies have clearly refuted the claims and, therefore, Dr Kwabena Donkor, Deputy Minister of Energy would have it difficult to clutch to the same straw if we experience another shortage.

The last explanation that a tanker carrying crude to Ghana caught fire in Cameroun sounds weird since if indeed, the cargo was from Nigeria, then it should have been moving westwards rather than eastwards. Therefore, there is the need for serious explanation.

The story being told is that because we depend on imports of refined petroleum products, since TOR has not processed any crude this year, the products come in limited quantities, estimated at about two million litres weekly.

Thus, any time there is delay in the arrival of the cargo, we experience shortage. That is the basis for the cycle of abundance and scarcity, often the hardest times are at the beginnings of the week.

Those Ghanaians who have not bought into the claims of Dr Donkor and the Ministry of Information that the shortages are caused by the blacklisted oil marketing companies are of the conviction that if the products were abundant, then the supplies to those operating would have been increased.

However, whenever the shortages are acute, the trusted and leading companies are equally affected. More important, the companies put out as having been taken off TOR supply list, sell fuel for as long as there are products on the market.

How then are those same companies able to have fuel to sell when we have been told that they do not get any supplies from TOR.

On the other hand, some of the oil marketing companies are noted to have been involved in the importation of petroleum products. In that regard, how do Ghanaians get to appreciate the situation to enable them to sympathise with the government.

We all agree that fuel supply is very crucial to national development. We must thus be grateful to God that the rains have been good this year to ensure that Akosombo does not fail. If it had not been so and we have had to depend on petroleum products for power supply as was the case a few years back, the economy could have been grounded.

Some may say that it is irrelevant to talk about that and that the situation now is what we have to deal with. But the issue is that for as long as the TOR remains inoperative, there is a huge cost to all of us, taxpayers, since the refined products we import cannot be sold any cheaper because we must take into account the salaries of the TOR workers.

More important, the errant manner of delivery does not assure public confidence. There are those who do panic buying getting to the end of the week. However, if things were better and supply continuous you would buy what is necessary at a time.

Thus, what is happening today has serious implications for all of us. That is why the government must gather the courage and place before Ghanaians the true state of the supply chain in terms of availability or otherwise of petroleum products.

After all, the government has told Ghanaians that the previous government left the petroleum sector in shambles, so let us appreciate the shambolic situation and exonerate the new managers of the sector.

The way that information about the petroleum sector is being managed, when in the face of real periodic shortages we are still assured by the government that all is well except for a few oil marketing companies which have been denied supplies due to their indebtedness to TOR, gives the impression that government has something to hide and is not being sincere with the people.

But whatever it is, truth will out. It has been noted that “leadership is doing what is right when no one is watching.” Let us do the right thing and come to terms with our reality, otherwise a time will come when we would have no alibi to explain away failures.

When that time comes, we shall literally be shorn of our clothes, “yebepa yeto ntama”. Otherwise, we must appreciate our elders when they say, “se wotwa nkontompo ma wo safoa yera, a woda abonten”, to wit if you lie that your key is missing, yo sleep outside and also that “se woto eboo bo edan, esan bebo wo” meaning when you throw a stone against the wall, it bounces back to hit you.

We must build our country on the basis of morality and truth. If the petroleum products are not there, let us tell our people rather than lie to them that the scarcity is as a result of the blacklisting of some oil marketing companies when users are ready to go wherever they can find the product.

Credit: Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh/Daily Graphic

Graphic, © 2009

The author has 32 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: Graphic

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