The Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale North, Alhassan S. Suhiyini, has cast serious doubt about the ability of the 9-member investigative committee, set-up by the Minister of Energy, to unravel the mystery surrounding how the contamination of five million litres of fuel (off spec) occurred at the Accra Plains Depot of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport (BOST) Company Limited.
According to the journalist turned politician, he is convinced that the Boakye Agyarko Committee, will not be able to touch on the corruption aspect of the scandal, because of the utterances of the MP for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong, who threatened the government not to touch the BOST Managing Director (MD), because of his financial contribution to the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) 2016 campaign that saw them winning power.
The NDC MP, said everything points to the fact that, something was not right with the transaction, but because of the people involved like the MD, Alfred Obeng Boateng, the committee won’t expose the corrupt deals, but will do a cover up so that those who were threatened won’t be found wanting.
“I am not hopeful that that aspect of corruption will be dealt with, the fact that the company was given the job before it was registered, the fact that the address of the company was traced to…. you know, and the relationships that were involved, the whole messy nature of that deal that took place, I can’t be hopeful that the committee will address that”.
The MP was on Metro Television’s Good Morning programme on Friday to react to report that the Energy Minister has finally inaugurated the investigative body he promised to set up to investigate what has become known as the “BOST scandal” which occurred about two months ago.
During the inauguration last Thursday, Mr. Agyarko, tasked the committee to, within one month, submit a detailed report on the circumstances that created the off spec product at BOST and review the procedure that was undertaken by the company to evacuate the product.
It is chaired by Dr. Lawrence Darkwah, the Head of the Chemical Engineering Department of the School of Engineering of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi.
The other members are representatives of state agencies such as the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), the Energy Commission, the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA).
“The committee is also expected to ascertain the quality and quantity of the remaining product and determine if the product can be corrected, and if not, determine the alternative use of the product,” Mr. Agyarko said.
He also charged them to review the entire transactions between BOST and some entities to evacuate the off spec product.
“The committee is expected to advise the Ministry of Energy on the necessary technical, administrative and legal actions to be taken in respect of the issue at hand,” the minister added.
He gave an assurance that the ministry, would get to the bottom of the circumstances surrounding the occurrence of the off spec and the transactions that followed, stressing: “We want to ensure that the integrity of petroleum products supplied to the public is protected”.
But Alhassan S. Suhiyini, a first time legislator, insists he is not expecting much from the Committee aside other matters that do not bother on corruption saying “…I am counting on the work of the committee to at least assure us that the contaminated fuel for example, didn’t get to our engines or did not get onto the market.
And am counting on the committee to perhaps clarify another vex issue that was confused as justification when this discussion started.
Because reference was made to what happened in the past and it was as if contaminated fuel you know and they mentioned some litres had been sold in the past in the same manner but really at the time the technical people were explaining but many won’t listen and that’s why I am hoping this committee will resolve that”.
He continued “I am hoping that the committee will distinguish between what used to happen in the past and what perhaps might have happened in this case and why the fuel got contaminated in the first place and if it was deliberate or not.
I am hoping that the committee will address this matter. But because of the warning of Kennedy Agyapong, I am very confident that nothing will come out as it relates to corrupt practices that we all know took place during that transaction because I am told he is untouchable and that is why the report had to be cooked to exonerate him?
On Wednesday, June 28, 2017, there were media reports that five million litres of contaminated or off spec fuel from the Accra Plains Depot of BOST had been released onto the market.
Following that report and the subsequent public outcry, the NPA conducted preliminary investigations and disclosed that Movenpinaa Energy and Zup Oil, the two companies that acquired 471,00 litres of the contaminated oil from BOST, were not licensed to operate in the oil and gas sector.
In the midst of the brouhaha that ensued following the NPA revelation, the Minority in Parliament called for the head of Alfred Obeng Boateng, alleging that the sale of the off spec had run the country into a huge debt.
The African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), IMANI Africa and other civil society organizations also waded into the saga, calling for full-scale investigations into the issue.
While all this was going on, the BNI came out with an investigative report that exonerated the BOST managing director from any wrongdoing.
The report also recommended that the committee that the Minister of Energy had announced to investigate the off spec saga be set aside, a recommendation that stirred controversy among a section of the public.
The setting up of the committee now by Mr. Agyarko, is expected to bring the matter to a conclusion.