Edward Bawa Cries For Private Car Owners, Trotro & Taxi Drivers
Thousands of car owners, risk losing their vehicles as a result of the contaminated fuel released into the market for sale by the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST), the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for the Bongo Constituency in the Upper East Region, has warned.
In the opinion of Edward Bawa, “Trotro”, taxi and other commercial vehicle drivers, also risk losing their jobs due to the reckless action of BOST into releasing the dirty fuel into the public domain with the likelihood of it ending in the cars of innocent buyers and damaging their engines.
The former Head of Communications for the Ministry of Petroleum in an interview with The Herald, yesterday suggested there is more to the dirty oil scandal saying, “My understanding is that there was an operational lapse at BOST which resulted in diesel contaminating Petrol. This, in the strict sense of word, could not have been treated as slop”.
Mr. Bawa’s warning, came ahead of yesterday’s press conference by the Minority in Parliament in which they demanded the “immediate interdiction” of the Managing Director of BOST, Alfred Obeng Boateng, over what they described as a “bizarre” and “dubious” contract awarded to Movenpiina Company Limited to distribute 5 million litres of contaminated fuel onto the market.
At the press conference, the Minority, called for a full-scale investigation by the regulatory authorities into the “corrupt” deal.
This call comes barely 24-hours after the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP Ghana), an Energy Policy and Governance Think-Tank, also called on the CEO of BOS, to step aside for investigations into the matter.
According to the Minority, the transaction between BOST and an unlicensed company, Movenpiina, is fraught with irregularities and possible corruption to the tune of 14.25 million cedis.
The Minority also demanded the “immediate withdrawal of the contaminated product from the market to protect consumers and assurances that this will not recur.”
The Minority demanded that the financial loss estimated at GH¢14.25 million must be retrieved by “surcharging the offending officials at BOST in line with the recent Supreme Court decision.”
The Bongo MP, explained that “Slop is the term assigned to residue in tanks which has high basic sediments and water. Usually these products are sent into tanks known as slop tanks. The maximum slop tank capacity at BOST is 500,000 litres, and nothing in the range of 5 million litres”.
He revealed that “for the past few years BOST has outsourced the operations of its depots to TSL. But interestingly BOST went ahead to assume the liabilities for the lapse that resulted in the contamination. The question is why?
To him, selling the product as slops at GH¢1.00 per a litre raises more suspicion, because slops are normally sold at around the price of fuel oil as it is blended with RFO and sold to be used as furnace and boiler fuel.
Mr. Bawa insisted that “this product was not slop and as such the price should be in the neighbourhood of the price of diesel. However, the best option was to take it back to the refinery for use as a blending product or at a tank farm where blending operations are possible. And this won’t take 9 months as BOST is claiming”.
“The law states that petroleum products from BOST can only be sold to a BDC or an OMC. Is Movenpiina a BDC or an OMC. My checks indicate that Movenpiina is not licensed”, he argued.
“Furthermore the company that lifted the product from BOST depots should be an OMC; in its letter to BOST, Movenpinaa asked that BOST release the product to MacWest. Is this company an OMC?
He questioned, “where is the product as we speak. If this product, has been put on the market that will be an illegality – selling offspec products to unsuspecting customers”.
He revealed that, BOST usually has documents covering the following activities: Releasing a product in a tank for market, Oil Marketing Country (OMC) orders which indicate where product is going and Tanker release documents showing which Tanker is lifting the product.
These documents are approved by the BOST Depot manager. The Bongo MP, therefore, demanded BOST, to release these documents to the public as a matter of transparency and public safety.
Addressing the press, Minority Spokesperson on Mines and Energy, Armah Kofi Buah, argued that “the justification by BOST that the contaminated products were sold for use by manufacturing companies is untenable.”
“The norm and practice is that, when such contamination occurs, corrective treatment of these products, are undertaken by the Tema Oil Refinery through blending. Why did BOST not arrange with TOR for the treatment of this particular fuel? Available information indicates that BOST failed to exhaust all means to ensure TOR blends this contaminated fuel.”
“The argument by BOST that the blending couldn’t be done at TOR, because the CDU is down is most untenable,” Mr. Buah added. Mr. Buah, on behalf of the Minority, therefore demanded a full scale investigation into the sale of the contaminated oil.
BOST, has sought to refute claims it failed to carry out due diligence in its award of contracts to Movenpiina and ZUPOIL with regards to the sale 5 million litres of contaminated fuel.
BOST in response to ACEP’s claim indicated in a statement that its technical team inspected the facility of ZUPOIL “and was satisfied.”
“BOST deploys the use of bulk road vehicles that have tracking devices installed and have dully met the requirements of NPA to haul products. Thus, rendering BOST extremely responsible. Anyone with information on the illegal sale of the product at the pumps should report to the appropriate authority for immediate action.”
Below is the Minority’s full statement:
MINORITY IN PARLIAMENT CALLS FOR FULL SCALE INVESTIGATION INTO BLATANT CORRUPTION AT BOST LTD.
The minority in Parliament has noted with grave concern the sale of contaminated fuel product to the tune of five million litres to a company known as Movenpiina by the MD of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Limited under very dubious and bizarre circumstances in another clear example of escalating corruption in the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia Government.
Even more disturbing is the explanation offered by BOST to justify the sale of this contaminated product as well as the circumstances surrounding the sale which clearly lacks transparency and integrity.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, it must be mentioned that under proper regulatory and supervisory protocols, under no circumstance should the BOST Co. Ltd experience such high levels of contamination as we are witnessing.
The question to ask is what led to the contamination of these products in the first instance. Why was the particular tank in question not properly discharged and cleaned before the intake of the fresh fuel which led to the contamination? Was it due to negligence, lack of supervision or a deliberate plot by some self-seeking individuals to enrich themselves at the expense of the state and the Ghanaian tax payer?
The justification by BOST that the contaminated products were sold for use by manufacturing companies is untenable. The norm and practice is that when such contaminations occur, corrective treatment of these products are undertaken by the Tema Oil Refinery through blending. Why did BOST not arrange with TOR for the treatment of this particular fuel? Available information indicates that BOST failed to exhaust all means to ensure TOR blends this contaminated fuel. The argument by BOST that the blending couldn’t be done at TOR because the CDU is down is most untenable.
These so-called off-spec products are not the slops that are usually sold by BOST, we also wish to state that SLOPS are usually in small quantities. SLOPS are sediments of fuels in a Tank and are usually in small quantities and cannot be compared with 5 million liters of contaminated fuel.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, the claim by BOST that this contaminated product was sold at a competitive ex-depot price is false and cannot be justified.
When was the competitive bidding process initiated and who were the companies that participated? Incontrovertible evidence available confirms that Movenpiina Company was the only company BOST dealt with in the sale of this contaminated product in a sole sourced transaction. It is therefore erroneous to suggest that the sale was done under a competitive process.
Further information available to us indicates that Movenpiina Co. Lt. put in a proposal to purchase the fuel on the 19th of May 2017. Interestingly, checks from the Registrar Generals Department suggest the company was incorporated to trade and transport fuel on the 29th of May 2017. This clearly suggest collusion on the part of the actors. Information available before us indicates the Managing Director took a decision to grant to Movenpiina Co. an Open-Credit sales arrangement against all the advice from his own staff. This means that the company bought the products without paying for it and in turn sold the products to a third-party Company Zupoil at 30% higher. This smacks of high level corruption.
We further wish to know what culminated in the interdiction of General Manager of Terminals, Mr. Fred Adarkwa and the Trading Department Manager Mr. Nana Obeng all of BOST. Was it because they strongly kicked against the clandestine process of selling these products. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have received information that these contaminated fuels which were originally meant for industrial usage by the steel, garment, petrol chemical as claimed by BOST by companies to run their machinery and certainly not for the running of vehicle engines has ended up in the open market against the NPA’s directive not to do so. The resultant effect will mean damage to vehicle engines and its accompanying side effects to the innocent Ghanaian consumer. Furthermore, our checks reveal that the contact number on Movenpiina is the same number of the BOST MD’s private office in Airport Residential Area.
The Gentleman who registered the Company, one Nana Poku Agyemang a generator dealer with a Company General Power is a close associate of the MD and they have been doing business together before the MD was appointed to BOST.
The Minority has also noted with trepidation the revelation that the said Movenpiina Company is currently a Bulk Oil Transporter at BOST carrying huge petroleum products across the Country when they are not registered. This is not only illegal, it is also extremely risky because when those products are lost, it will be at the cost of the tax payer as there’s no insurance covering the said contract.
The Minority will want to place on record that further checks reveal that, BOST has never sold any contaminated products before. They always blend the products to correct it to meet industry specifications as outlined by NPA and Ghana Standard Authority. What BOST has sold in the past is slop and not contaminated products. As we speak BOST imported a full cargo declared by NPA as off Spec. The Company that brought in the product is called Morco Energy. That product is currently being blended at TOR to correct it. We wonder why the 5million litres didn’t go through the same process to correct it.
Ladies and gentlemen, the blatant corruption by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government cannot be allowed to continue.
We demand the following:
1) The immediate interdiction of the BOST MD – Mr. Alfred Obeng Boateng
2) Full scale investigation by the regulatory authorities
3) The immediate withdrawal of the contaminated product from the market to protect consumers and assurances that this will not recur.
4) That the financial loss estimated at GHS 14.25 million be retrieved by surcharging the offending officials at BOST in line with the recent Supreme Court decision. We thank you for your attention.