GMA Arrests Six Boats In Takoradi For Illegal Bunkering Activities
The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) together with the Western Naval command and marine police have arrested eight people who are suspected to be involved in illegal fuel trade.
The arrest which was made on Wednesday May 13, 2020 was during a routine patrol on the sea to check activities of the Takoradi enclave.
Currently, the eight suspects are in the custody of Ghana marine police and the wooden boat - locally known as Dendey – which is the middleman for these illegal fuel trades is docked at the Western Naval command.
This Dendey, which has the capacity to store about 55,000 to 60,000 tonnes of oil, was arrested one Wednesday morning due to suspected illegal bunkering activities.
The growing activities of these illegal boats are becoming a threat, hence, Director-General of GMA, Thomas Kofi Alonsi hinted on getting a court order to destroy them when seized.
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.
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.
The Head of the Ghana Maritime Authority at Takoradi, Captain William E. Thompson stated that the Dendey (specially crafted wooden boats with the inside lined with plastic to avoid contamination and leakage purposely used for illegal bunkering) is not registered in any form so any transaction made during this process, is on the blindside of tax and other regulatory authorities.
Captain Thompson expressed worry about the source of the oil as it is not known and said its presence on the market poses serious risks to vehicles.
“Where was it stolen from; that’s the question and is it suitable for our local market, if it’s, it means it ends up at the fuel stations.”
He also revealed that six illegal boats have been apprehended from March to date.
“Illegal fuel bunkering is becoming a norm in some coastal communities in the Western and Central regions over the years and this affects the country’s income and security,” he revealed.
The Director of Marine Police ACP Seidu Iddi Lancer said the eight will soon be brought before court.
“Their statements are being taken and we will get to the bottom of it; this is an illegal activity that’s being undertaken in our waters.”
The GMA and marine police have handed over the oil to the National Petroleum Authority to check the quality of the oil and the Ghana revenue authority to check the revenue lost to the country as a result of this illegal activity.