Minister Reveals: Gallons of Premix Fuel Missing
... Okuley Nortey, Ayi Bonte & Havillah Coy mentioned
Despite the ongoing prosecution of the 'inactive' Western Regional chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Nana Alex Asamoah, for allegedly indulging in premix fuel deals, some members in the present government appear to be doing worst things, though the Kufuor administration has 'zero tolerance for corruption' as its watchword.
Intelligence reports picked up by The Chronicle in Tema indicates that as many as 132,000 gallons of premix fuel lifted from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) with the street value of ¢1.23 billion for distribution to premix fuel outlets in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis got vanished on the highway.
At the centre of what looks like a fraudulent deal is a company called Havillah that reportedly lifted the premix fuel from TOR, and the Ministerial Committee on premix fuel, headed by Hon.
Niibi Ayibonte, Member of Parliament for Odododiodoo in the Greater Accra Region and Hon. Okuley Nortey, another member of Parliament, who also gave approval for the lifting of the premix fuel.
Diversion of the premix fuel came at the time fishermen in the aforementioned areas were in dire need of the fuel to power their outboard motors to the high seas.
When the chairperson of the Western Regional Co-ordinating Council on Premix (WRCCP), who is also the deputy Western Regional Minister, Madam Sophia Horner-Sam, was contacted on Tuesday, this week, she vehemently denied that her outfit had received such a quantity of fuel from Havillah Company for fishermen in the region.
According to her, when she also sighted a document indicating that such a large quantity of fuel had been supplied to them, she demanded to know the particulars of the vehicles that brought the said fuel, but up to the time she was speaking to The Chronicle the committee had failed to make the particulars available to her.
"If it is true that the fuel as indicated on the document that was signed by the Ministerial Committee members was supplied to us here in the Western Region, then a proper investigation ought to be conducted to find out the whereabouts of the fuel since we have not received it," she emphatically said.
Documentary evidence sighted by The Chronicle indicated that on June 29, this year, Hon. Niibi Ayibonte and Hon. Okuley Nortey gave approval to Havillah Company to lift 132,000 gallons of premix fuel to The Western Region.
The destination of the fuel, which is being heavily subsidized by the government for our fishermen, was the WRCCP, local premix committee of Ngyreasia, near Sekondi, and local premix committee of Upper Dixcove - all the Western Region.
Surprisingly, two solid months after the lifting of the fuel by Havillah Company in the name of the aforementioned destinations, the fuel has not been delivered.
Meanwhile, the fishermen continued to put severe pressure on the WRCCP to supply them the fuel since from June to September every year is their fishing season.
Investigation conducted at most of the premix fuel outlets in the Sekondi - Takoradi metropolis revealed that the fishermen did not know the said Havillah Company.
Some of the managers of the outlets told The Chronicle and, in fact, confirmed Madam Horner Sam's position that they had not received any fuel from the so-called Havillah, as the company was not even known to them.
They mentioned Goil, Star Oil Company and Unipetrol as the only oil companies that supplied the fuel to them through the WRCCP.
Furtehr investigation established that most of the fishermen are currently using petrol to power the outboard motors because of the non-availability of the premix fuel, which has become scarce nowadays.
The Chronicle also gathered that in most of the cases diverted premix fuel is sent to Malian and Nigerien fuel dealers, who then reportedly mix it with premium petrol and sell them to vehicle and cars users. It is however not known whether the Sekondi consignment, which has now vanished under mysterious circumstances, was also diverted to the Malian and Nigerien fuel dealers.
Already there are strong suspicions that other destinations, apart from the Western Region, that were listed on the document and approved by the Ministerial Committee did also not receive their consignment.
The destinations were Tema Fishermen Association, Denu Fishermen Association, Local Premix Committee, Elmina; Mankango Fishermen Association, Local Premix Committee, Cape Coast; Pakanya No.2 Fishermen Association, Anyanu Dzita Fishermen Association, Fante Canoe Fishermen Association Yeji-Buipe Fishermen Association, Akplanbanya Fishermen Association, Old Ningo Fishermen Association, Ga Mashie Fishermen Association, James Town, Kpando-Torkor Fishermen Credit Association, Dambai Fishermen Association.
Others were Kanti Fishermen Association, Inland Canoe Fishermen Association, Abotoase; Adjimesu Canoe Fishermen Association and Dameai Canoe Fishermen Association.
As Takoradi did not receive its consignment then there is a strong suspicion that the aforementioned destinations did also not receive theirs and it is only a thorough investigation that could confirm or disprove this, a Chronicle source in Accra observed.
When this reporter contacted one Frank Bobrovo, said to be in charge of Tema office of the Premix Committee to ascertain the whereabouts of the approved fuel, especially the Sekondi consignment, he said an answer to such a question was beyond him, and directed the reporter to contact Hon. When The Chronicle managed to reach Okuley on his cell phone, he was surprised about how the paper got the information and directed the reporter to contact Madam Horner-Sam in Sekondi, since they have their way of operating.
When the reporter informed him that he had already spoken to Madam Horner-Sam and she had vehemently denied receiving gallons of fuel from them, Okuley said he was about to receive the Vice- President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, and directed the reporter to see him in Accra, and cut off the line.
Still wanting to get to the bottom of the suspected diversion, the reporter also called Niibi Ayibonte, a few minutes after speaking to Okuley Nortey.
A lady who answered his two mobile phones claimed the MP "left" his two phones at home and was therefore not available to answer.
When the Havillah Company that reportedly lifted the fuel from TOR about two months ago was also contacted, a special assistant to the chief executive who would not disclose the name of his boss and himself said they operate under what he described as buffer.
Under this system, he said, the approval is given two or three months ahead by the Ministerial Premix Committee and the fuel is only supplied when the outlets demanded it.
He said recently they supplied some of the fuel to Ahomebre in the Western Region when the WRCCP put in a request.
Interestingly, the name Ahomebre, which they claimed to have supplied the fuel to, was not on the original list approved by the committee about two months ago.
When the reporter asked the special assistant whether it was prudent business practice to give approval for something that had been supplied when it had supposedly not been done, he directed the reporter to contact the two MPs for the answer.
The respected Madam Horner-Sam, who was the first to be interviewed, told The Chronicle that with this experience she had started demanding particulars of all vehicles that supplied the fuel to them of late.
Meanwhile, groups of fishermen interviewed in the course of investigation have appealed to the President, Mr. J. A. Kufuor, to put a special searchlight on the premix fuel distribution in the country.
According to them, in an apparent attempt to blindfold the public, some members of the Ministerial Committee have put their close relatives as office managers in some of the regional capitals to manage the distribution.