The Deputy Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Francis K. Ato Cudjoe, has dismissed calls for the prosecution of Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) that were cited in the alleged Premix Fuel diversions across the country in 2017.
The Deputy Minister said although the Fisheries Ministry initially blacklisted all the trucks cited, investigations, later investigations have shown that most of them were only re-routing, something mistaken by the media for diversions.
Speaking to Citi News on Tuesday at Ekumfi Essakyir in the Central Region, he said, â€œThe so-called diversions, the majority of them were not diversions. On the system, they had been keyed (for example) to go to Apam, but instead of going to Apam, they dropped the fuel at Winneba, which was done in conjunction with either the Ministry or the Landing Beach Committeesâ€.
However, Ato Cudjoe admitted that sometimes the appropriate procedures in the re-routing (re-directing) fuel trucks were not followed as the OMCs did not liaise well with the Ministry of Fisheries and the Landing Beach Committees on where the fuel should be sent to.
In November 2017, Citi News reported on the massive diversions of premix fuel loaded from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), a situation that led to lack of the product used by fishers across the country.
The situation resulted in a joint action by the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and the National Premix Fuel Committee (NPFC) that led to the formulation of a six-point resolution to sanitize the premix industry.
One of the six-point measures was that â€œThe NPA and the NPFC will continue investigations, and those found culpable will be brought to bookâ€, but the Deputy Minister told Citi News, â€œThere were some incidents we could not find because it has been quite difficult to prove and have concrete evidence against themâ€.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister has announced government is working on securing some resources to cushion Ghanaian fishers within the period of ban on sea fishing throughout August; period fishers will be jobless.
Governmentâ€™s ban on fishing has been met with mixed feelings, and most fishers have been complaining that it comes at a period deemed peak for Ghanaian fisher folks, but Ato Cudjoe has explained it is necessary to protect fingerlings within the period.
He said the ban, though biting, is an appropriate measure to avert â€œan economic catastropheâ€ that could hit Ghana.
He noted, â€œThe Ministry is working out programmes and soliciting support to be able to provide some support for fishers; what we are working out is ensuring that within the 368 fishing communities we have, some assistance is sent to these communities to cushion them.