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Workers of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST), on Thursday, at the Accra Plains Depot in Tema, mounted a strong defence for their boss, Alfred Obeng, who has been accused of fraud in the ongoing oil contamination brouhaha.
The angry workers, clad in red bands, claim the oil contamination tale has been blown completely out of proportion, holding that their new Managing Director has not faulted in selling off the contaminated fuel at a competitive price. According to the workers, the committee set up to investigate the non-existent fraud is populated by the Bulk Distribution Companies (BDCs) representatives, who want to see BOST kicked out of business. This, they noted, is very dangerous for the country.
At a press conference in Tema, the Chairman of the unionised workers, Godfred Newton Amu, said this is not the first time oil has been contaminated at BOST.
Chronicling a history of oil contamination in an institution that is supposed to be storing Ghana’s unadulterated fuel, Mr Newton said, in 2014, 2015 and 2016, there were massive cases of oil contamination, adding that the prices at which the current MD has sold the contaminated fuel is higher and more competitive than under the previous regime.
Over five million litres of fuel have been contaminated in the latest string of oil contamination at BOST.
Under the current Managing Director at BOST, the contaminated fuel was sold to a new company, Movenpiina, at a price of GH¢1.30.
Movenpiina then sold the contaminated oil it bought to another company, ZupOil. According to the National Petroleum Authority, both companies are unlicensed.
The Minority waded in the controversy, describing the whole transaction as corrupt.
At a press conference, the Minority Spokesperson on Mines and Energy, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, said the whole transaction was tainted with fraud.
The Minority did not understand why BOST must sell the contaminated fuel to two companies which are unlicensed, and did not have the track record in handling volumes of such contaminated fuel.
They also alleged the company to which the contaminated oil was sold to had links with the MD at BOST, and had the same telephone line Alfred Obeng used.
They called on the President to, without delay, interdict the MD at BOST, and institute an investigation into the deal.
Their call appears to have been met, at least, partially, by the Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, who has constituted an eight-member committee to investigate how the oil got contaminated, and the circumstances under which it was sold to Movenpiina.
But the workers at BOST are unhappy with the accusations against their MD.
Wearing red armbands and chanting, the workers insisted their MD had done nothing wrong and must be left alone.
No institution in the petroleum industry was spared a threat by the workers. Not even the Minority in Parliament.
Godfred Newton Amu warned the Energy Ministry to dissolve the committee it set up to investigate the controversial transaction.
According to him, the committee members are made up of BDCs and OMCs, all whom seek the extinction of BOST.
Describing the committee members as biased, Mr Amu said it would be a dangerous move if the government allowed only BDCs to handle the sale of petroleum products downstream.
He charged Ghanaians to “disregard the call by the Minority” for the BOST boss to be interdicted.
They also petitioned the President not to rush in taking punitive measures against Mr Obeng, who, they claim, has rather been working hard to put the institution on the right pedestal.
“We want to reaffirm our unflinching support for Alfred Obeng,” he said, threatening to protest if the President were to remove the MD.
In a reaction on Joy News yesterday, a Ranking Member of the Mines and Energy Committee said the action by the workers cannot be countenanced.
Adams Mutawakilu said the ongoing controversy is a matter of breach of law, and that the law must apply, not shouts of protest.
According to him, at the time Movenpiina applied to buy the fuel it was not registered, and wondered how such a company would get such a contract.
He reiterated the call for the Alfred Obeng to step aside for investigations to be carried out.
On Wednesday, The Chronicle reported that the recent brouhaha at BOST, over the sale of some contaminated fuel product to the tune of five million litres to a company known as Movenpiina by the BOST MD, follows the interdiction of the former acting General Manager (GM), Finance, of BOST.
The new MD, according to The Chronicle’s investigations, unearthed a whopping rip off of GH¢133 million, which was stolen from the company, through a chronology of systematic dubious deals by the predecessor of the new MD.
One of such systematic fleecing had the former acting GM, Finance, helping in the plot, and his ably major role was captured in the transfer of a whopping GH¢40.5 million into a fictitious account in the name of ‘Chief of Staff Sundry Account’.
That account was to span for 13 months, and The Chronicle’s investigations disclosed that the last payment of that money was paid into the account in January 2017, months before the new the BOST boss, Alfred Obeng Boateng, took over.
Another systematic chronological thievery The Chronicle unearthed was that, a staff of the Trading Department took a product procured by the new MD, worth over US$33 million, and gave it out without the MD’s approval, to honour a dubious holding certificate created by the former BOST MD.
The Trading Department staff has also been interdicted to enable management investigate the matter.
The Chronicle observed that under the old BOST administration, an over-priced contract of US$39 million was awarded to Rolider to build the BOST head office, under sole sourcing. The new BOST MD, according to The Chronicle’s investigations, had directed that the contract be suspended, with Rolider agreeing in principle to cut down the contract price.
Another dubious contract the new MD had called for its suspension, due to over-pricing, was some US$19 million construction of a pipeline from the Accra Plains Depot to the Akosombo Depot.
Source: Bernice Bessey || The Chronicle