Ghana Maritime Authority Requests For A Court Order To Destroy Illegal Boats
Director-General of Ghana Maritime Authority, Thomas Kofi Alonsi
The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) has hinted on gaining the authority to seize and destroy the boats being used for this illegal fuel trade.
The Authority’s Director-General, Thomas Kofi Alonsi indicated that the legal department of his outfit has been asked to go to court to acquire the necessary order that will empower the regulator to lawfully seize and destroy these boats.
The trading of illegal fuel on Ghana’s high seas has a cumulative effect at disturbing rate. Mr. Alonsi was informed by the security chiefs at the Western Naval base that the unlawful fuel trade along the coast in the Central Region and Takoradi region had accumulated alarming magnitudes of fuel and become a threat in the area.
Mr. Alonsi however emphasized that the activities of these illegal boats – locally known as Dendeys – will be handled soon.
These Dendeys are massive wooden vessels masked as fishing boats. They are able to store about tens of thousands of litres and are driven by twin-outboard motors. They usually go to the high seas at night, when illegal oil tanker ships dock. Tonnes of fuel are pumped from the tankers into the Dendeys which sail to different beaches and discharge the fuel into waiting road fuel tankers. This activity or any transaction made during this process, is on the blindside of tax and other regulatory authorities.
GMA explained that the boats are created in a way that only serves the purpose of this illegal activity hence the boats cannot be put to any other use. This is the drive behind the Authority’s move to obtain an order to be able to destroy them when seized.
State loses revenues, environment polluted
The state incurs large amounts of loses of revenue and regulators lose taxes to be collected due to the illegal activities of fuel smugglers. These illegal activities do not only cost the nation but pollute the environment and cause other environmental hazards as large quantities of fuel – mostly diesel – spill on the beaches.
The illegally obtained fuel, which is usually of low quality does not go through regulatory inspection and misses the quality guarantee of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and ends up on the market. This poses serious risks to vehicles.
The Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) in its annual report indicated that activities in the downstream petroleum subsector disclosed that the country in 2018 saved almost GH¢1billion which would have been lost through smuggling of the products.
The report revealed that the country saved GH¢952million by hindering the sale of unlawful sale of petroleum products in the country in 2018. This was a reversal from the losses incurred between the years 2015 to 2017, through unrecorded stock and evasion of taxes.
Why these illegal activities must be stopped
The Western Naval Command’s Commodore E.A. Kwafo, who doubles as the Acting Flag Officer Commanding at the Western Naval Command, at a meeting with the Ghana Maritime Authority hinted a miserable picture of risks which were caused by the Dendeys.
“We are rearing a monster that will one day consume all of us,” he said.
Commodore Kwafo said the owners of these boats, if not stopped, may become encouraged and even start using their boats to cart other illicit products, such as weapons and drugs.