The programme by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to roll out its gas cylinder recirculation model, will not start this year as planned.
According to NPA’s Director for Inspection and Monitoring, Esther Anku, the delay is as a result of the inability of some 18 companies to build new LPG Bottling Plants to start the programme.
But the Authority, says it is working to “fast track”, the implementation process.
Mrs. Anku, who made this known at a media event yesterday said, though the flagship programme was taking a “step-by-step approach” to come into fruition, the NPA, will start the implementation as soon as the bottling plants are set up by these firms.
So far, 18 companies have expressed interest and picked forms to build these plants, but according to Mrs. Anku, these companies are yet to submit these forms to begin the processes for licensing, adding how soon the policy rolls out “Will depend on when we receive the forms”.
Regardless of the delay, she assured that “within a year or so, the first bottling plant, should be out” to start the programme.
The NPA, said the policy would start the moment the first bottling plant is built since a single plant, can produce a total of 1000 cylinders per an hour,and it will start to serve customers within that catchment area.
Per the policy, the 18 cylinder manufacturing plants, will produce branded cylinders from either steel or fibre for customers alongside those in circulation now until the old ones are faced out.
It will be free for customers who have old cylinders, but will come at a cost for those who have none.
The programme which is a directive from the Akufo-Addo Cabinet, follows last August, major gas explosion at Atomic Junction in Accra.
It involve the filing of LPG cylinders at designated refilling plants, to be distributed to customers at retail outlets called Exchange Points.
The Managing Director (MD) of the NPA, AlhassanTampuli, not directly referring to the stiff opposition the policy has received since it announcement, said the programme would have to be supported by all, because it is the best under the circumstances.
Mr Tampuli said, the policy though not new, has had to be revisited and reviewed to suit the present situation.
The inability of the Authority to employ a large number of staff to monitor players at the downstream, Mr Tampuli said, was not a prerequisite “to leave the health and safety of the peoplein the hands of people” who may be negligent in the course of discharging their duties.
He said, sometimes during inspection, which is mainly for physical and documentation purposes, a company may have the best of installations and everything, but due “To the human factor”, the safety of many maybe compromised.
At the moment, the penetration level of LPG usage across the country stands at 23 percent, a situation the regulator wants to change to achieve about 50 percent with the commencement of this recirculation programme.
He said, since the decision to implement the policy, the NPA, and other stakeholders have visited countries such as Peru, India, Cote d’ Ivory, to learn both the good and the bad practices, to aid in the smooth take off of the programme.
He stressed that several lessons and changes have been made since the first document on the policy was made public, adding “the documents that were submitted at the early stages are not the same; there have been changes”.
He assured the new cylinders will come in different sizes but will be affordable for all kinds of customers.
Mr Tampuli debunked claims by players in the sector that the implementation of the policy, will render several people jobless, insisting that the NPA is going to follow strictly,the local content law to ensure “jobs like this are reserved for only local people”.
He outlined the numerous jobs the policy will offer to otherwise unemployed Ghanaians saying NPA is open to anyone who wants to offer any advice. “We have to give the policy a chance to tackle our peculiar challenges, we are inflexible, we are ready to accommodate”, he said.