Sixteen illegal fuel reseller outlets, popularly referred to as ‘gao gao’ fuel stations, have been shut down by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) in the Upper East Region.
The operation carried out by the Upper East Regional Office of the NPA, was to clamp down on illegal fuel stations which had sprung up across the region and selling particularly petrol to residents in hard-to-reach communities.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Upper East Regional Manager of the NPA, Bashiru Natogma, said the exercise was carried out to deal with the alarming proliferation of the outlets in the region.
The NPA Regional Manager expressed worry that operators of such fuel stations were unable to even disclose the specific oil marketing companies that supplied them the fuel to sell to the public, noting that besides the source of their fuel, the operators were not adhering to the standard pricing of their fuel products as the pumps they were using had not been properly calibrated for use.
The exercise took place in the Pelungu, Duusi, Gbane, Shiega, Tongo, Bongo, Zonno and Namolga communities.
The rest were Gaare, Chuchuliga, Sakote, Zorko, Bolga Soe, Sirigu and Kpale.
Mr Natogma explained that per the Act establishing the NPA, it was unlawful for a person to be in the possession of petroleum products in excess of that individual’s requirement, saying “the outlets did not have the required infrastructure and facilities to safely handle petroleum products.”
“Sadly, some of the outlets were sited close to settlements and public places, a development which increased the risk of fire outbreaks within the environment in which they operated,” he said.
He explained that the operation by the NPA was to ensure proper pricing, quality and safety in the retailing of petroleum products in the country for the benefit of all.
Mr Natogma indicated that the shutdown was a first step intended to give a window of opportunity for the dealers to take the necessary steps to acquire the needed permit from the NPA as well as identify a recognised OMC that would supply them with their fuel products.
He added that by so doing, the NPA could hold the OMCs that supplied them with their fuel products responsible in case of any eventuality and further cautioned the OMCs against operating illegal fuel outlets.
“The action by NPA is not to keep them out of business but rather to allow them to get the required permit to operate so that they can later be upgraded to fully fledged fuel stations.
“I wish to warn that any OMC caught supplying petroleum products to unlawful fuel reseller outlets will be severely dealt with,” Mr Natogma stressed.