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19.01.2005 Regional News

Petrol hits ¢28,000 at Bawku

By Chronicle
Petrol hits ¢28,000 at Bawku
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- smuggling to Togo, Burkina rife Bawku (Chronicle) -- The town of Bawku in the Upper East Region has been hit by massive smuggling of petrol to neighboring Togo and Burkina Faso, where the price is said to be almost twice of the price in Ghana, culminating in a perennial shortage of the commodity in the town for the past couple of months.

Motorists in the town are now buying petrol at ¢7000 per liter or ¢28000 per gallon through what has become known in the Bawku municipality as “Kalabule” instead of the national approved price of ¢20,000 per gallon. Most motorists who spoke to The Chronicle on the issue pointed out that it is even sometimes difficult to get fuel even at the kalabule price.

The current shortage and consequent illegal pricing is not a result of inadequate consignment of the fuel commodity to the business town, but the outcome of what the paper's investigations revealed as the smuggling of hundreds of gallons of the commodity to Togo and Burkina Faso through the Widana and Kulungungu entry points on daily basis.

While sellers at the seven filling stations in the town could always be spotted standing by the pumping machines to ostensibly announce to motorist the non availability of petrol, there are others who buy and horde the fuel on daily basis and who quickly announce to vehicle users just around the same premises of the filling stations that, “Kalabule beeme” a statement in the Moosi language, meaning “there is petrol at inflated price.”

At each of the filling stations, petrol-filled drums could be found packed in gutters to be sold at ¢28,000 per gallon to motorists who throng the filling stations for petrol each day, only to be welcomed with the usual statement of, “no petrol.”

During the night, donkey- pulling trucks could be spotted heading towards different directions leading to Togo or Burkina Faso, fully loaded with drums, filled with petrol.

Chronicle's monitoring of the petrol situation in the town reveal that oil consignments to the town hardly last for a day at the filling stations where the commodity is offered at the approved price of ¢20,000 per gallon.

“Immediately the tankers arrive with the petrol, the smugglers and the kalabule sellers quickly go with a number of drums to buy for smuggling or hording and they are now so many such that they easily exhaust whatever quantity of petrol that arrives, within a number of hours,” a driver, Mahmud Abdallah, stated.

Most people, who spoke to the paper on the matter, blamed the situation on the inactivity of the security personnel in the town and those at the Misiga custom check point as well as those at the Kulungungu and Widana boarder posts.

Custom officials at the Widana and Kulungungu boarders between Ghana/Togo and Ghana/Burkina respectively, who were interviewed, said the situation was beyond their control since the smugglers had created their own routes through which they smuggled the fuel to the two neighboring countries.

The security officials at the boarder posts advocated wider civil society participation in the current battle against the petrol smuggling canker which they described as being very horrible and worrying.

Most drivers who were interviewed on the situation appealed to the government to intervene since, they may be compelled to review the existing transport fares if the present situation of buying petrol at the kalabule price continued for the next couple of weeks.

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