President of the National Inland Canoe Fishermen Council, Jacob Tetteh Ageke, has bemoaned the incessant interference by political actors in the fishing industry, including in the distribution of premix fuel to fishermen.
The inland fishing sector cuts across five regions, involving 32 districts and 1,600 communities along the Volta Lake.
One of the areas, Mr Ageke argues, in which political interference has gained ground currently is in the distribution of premix fuel, having been taken over by party functionaries.
“Because the premix is a subsidised product, middle-men, politicians and other political actors of the ruling government have taken over so fishermen who are direct beneficiaries of this product hardly get it – and even purchase it at a higher price rather than at the subsidised price. So, clearly, you can see that we have beautiful laws, but then, our regulators are not enforcing them,” he said.
Mr Ageke further queried: “If a political party chairman is involved in premix distribution, what do you expect? This is a threat to national security. It is only not disturbing the fishermen but also vehicle owners who patronise adulterated fuel sold by distributors who have diverted the product and added other chemical products to make it look like super [petrol]”.
According to him, the situation is getting worse because the existing laws and bye-laws are not enforced. “How can a regional minister, a district chief executive and a party chairman be in charge of distributing premix fuel? There is a legislative instrument (LI) that clearly states how premix fuel should be distributed,” he bemoaned.
Nii Adjieteh Mattor III, Chief Fisherman of Ashaman in Tema, also alleged that the premix is not getting to the fisherman directly, but through political party members for distribution.
“As Chairman of the premix committee here in the Tema Canoe basin, I do not have any control over the distribution let alone know how much sales they have made to the bank because the distributors are not working hand in hand with us.
“When the product gets to the Tema Canoe basin, it does not go directly to the fishermen but to party members who then re-sell it to us. My responsibility is to ensure every fisherman gets the premix fairly and the amount made from the premix is accounted for, but the party Chairman who is in charge of the premix is not working with us.
“Party members should leave the premix fuel for the fishermen because it belongs to us; it does not belong to NPP, NDC or CPP. And if they get out from the premix, the problem of unfair distribution and selling the commodity higher than the subsidised price will stop,” he said
The situation, according to the inland fishermen, has persisted for about three years now; and they have made several complaints to the premix authority, but to no avail. He, therefore, appealed for the government to intervene as a matter of urgency.