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15.02.2005 General News

Drivers and station managers trade accusations over fuel shortage

By GhanaWeb Correspondent
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Hundreds of vehicle owners in major cities in Ghana have been forced to park their cars. Most fuel stations in the country claim to have run out of fuel. Long queues started forming at the stations on Sunday and they have persisted until now, getting even longer by the hour. The situation has been called an “artificial shortage” by journalists and government officials.

According to some fuel station managers, news about an impending price hike seems to have pushed many motorists into panic buying. “'Trotro' or commercial bus drivers who will usually not buy more than 15 litres at a go are now buying about 200 litres at once,” one station attendant told ghanaweb. “They have even been buying into jelly cans and other receptacles”, another said. The same can be said for private car owners who have also been buying more fuel than they usually buy. But the drivers and car owners deny the charge. They in turn accuse the fuel station managers of hoarding the product, expecting to make good profit when the expected price increases are announced. “They have fuel; they are just refusing to sell to us,” a driver told our correspondent. “God will punish them,” he added.

Government is expected to present it financial policy statement (or the budget) for this year in about a week. The fuel price hikes are expected to be announced in the budget statement. The budget was scheduled to be presented today. But government decided to deliver it in the last week of February “due to unforeseen circumstances”, according to deputy parliamentary majority leader, Abraham Ossei Aiddo.

There is speculation that the price of a gallon could go as high as 38,000 cedis – almost double the current price, according to the pro-government Statesman newspaper. The Ghanaian Chronicle has also reported that government has reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund for the new price to be pegged at 28,000 cedis even though President Kufuor is still pushing for 25,000 cedis for a gallon of petrol.

In parts of the country, there are reports that some fuel stations have started increasing prices. In Tamale, the northern regional capital, for example, drivers are reportedly buying a gallon of petrol at 40,000 cedis. Government officials and representatives of the oil marketing companies have urged drivers to report any station manager who hoards fuel or increases prices to the security agencies.

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