Deputy Executive Director of Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Benjamin Boakye, says authorities in charge of checking fuel exported to Ghana must regulate the sector to save lives.
This follows a report Thursday which said the fuel imported into Ghana mainly diesel is seriously toxic sometimes to the extent it is over 2000 times worse than the standards accepted in the EU and the USA.
The toxic fuel has been linked with several respiratory illnesses and car malfunctioning.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Newsnite programme on Thursday, he said “If we want to save the environment and the danger this poses to our health then as quickly as possible we need to all jump in and make sure that there is a regulation.”
A recent World Bank report says air pollution kills about 17,500 people annually in Ghana, Mr Boakye said is alarming enough to call for concerns.
“We can’t wait for that to exacerbate and the trend clearly shows that in the next 10-15 years the traffic situation in our cities is going to quadruple and that would have a serious implication on our health if we continue to use the kind of products that come on our market,” he said.
He added that Ghana is getting close to what Beijing has in terms of air pollution where people have to wear a mask to breath clean air.
He says the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors, Senyo Hosi’s argument that Ghana is providing 500-ppm fuel as a matter of cost is contestable because Kenya is currently doing 50-ppm and they are selling it cheaper than Ghana is.
“We should be able to dictate the price on the market and look at what the trend is and be able to get a fair price. It is just that some people are making an exorbitant profit out of the poor standards we have,” he said.
He conceded the burden is on Ghanaian authorities to regulate the sector and make sure that the systems work.
According to him, the law on exporting fuel allows the foreign companies to supply Ghana with dirty fuel as they tailor their products to suit every market.
“If your regulation allows certain limits, they [suppliers] blend to suit that quality and sell on that market for you. So the results of the research show they supply something close to the 3000-ppm to Ghana and other African countries,” he noted.
Mali, for instance, he explained, are still using the 1990 regulations which allow the supply of 10,000-pmm fuel although they settle for 5000-ppm which is the worst kind of fuel anyone can have.
He juxtaposed that with the decision of Kenyans who told their supplies they want 50-ppm and were accordingly supplied that.
For his part, the CEO of Ghana Chamber of Petroleum Consumers, Duncan Amoah was bemused with the argument put across by Mr Senyo Hosi who said
Ghanaians must be able to get premium fuel.
“Unfortunately, the black will continue to lag behind in terms of human development index as far as the EU and the USA are concerned,” he lamented.
He said the blame couldn’t be put on the suppliers in Europe and elsewhere because the challenge is not with Vitol, Glycol, and the others but what Ghana goes asking for.
“We [Ghana Chamber of Petroleum Consumers] would have taken these suppliers on legally to an extent that they were supplying us with a cheap and inferior product than we bargained for,” he said, but for the fact that the regulators are comfortable and not working in the interest of Ghanaians.
Comparing the price per litre in Canada which currently is $0.75 per litre and the USA selling at US$0.62, Mr Duncan said it is unacceptable for
Ghana to buy at a flat rate and still have over 3000-ppm fuel.
He called on all Ghanaians to act although he said they will continue to engage and push because they can’t look on as people are dying.