By: Prosper Agbenyega
Angry fishermen in the country have expressed disappointment and anger at the Chairman of the Premix Committee, Nii Lantey Bannerman, over what they described as attempts to kill their businesses by demanding GH¢1,100 from Landing Beach Committee (LBCs) which is to be paid into what they described as some ‘strange’ account.
The anger in the fishermen begun when the Chairman of the newly constituted National Premix Committee, Nii Lante Bannerman is believed to have completely ignored the Guidelines for The Re-Organisation of Premix Fuel Allocation, Distribution And Sale, and created a Bank Account into which landing beach committees (LBCs) are to pay GH¢ 1,100 representing a supposed 53% of the proceeds.
This development has generated heated controversies in the fisheries sector as many LBCs say; is an affront to the Legislative Instrument (LI) that set up the National Premix Fuel Allocation, Distribution and Sale and considered the money as too exorbitant for them to pay.
Per the LI, Each LBC must have a bank account where the 53% for the fishing will be deposited.
The account, according to the guidelines shall have a minimum of two (2) signatories who should be members and or the Secretary of the LBC.
This had been the process until Nii Lante Bannerman was appointed Chairman of the newly constituted Committee. Upon assumption of duty, Nii Lante Bannerman immediately changed the status quo and instituted his own way of operation to the detriment of the poor fisher folks.
Nii Lante Bannerman decided that none of the landing beach committees should be allowed to open their own bank account for the deposit of the 53% of the proceeds of the sale of premix fuel allocations, as against the Premix Fuel Allocation, Distribution and Sales Guidelines.
The 53% is supposed to be reserved for community development.
Nii Lante Bannerman claimed the decision was to avoid the situation of misappropriation and alleged corruption that characterize the sale and distribution of the commodity at the landing beaches.
However, what is more worrying to the LBCs members and the fisher folks is that, Nii Lante Bannerman has requested that all LBCs must pay an amount of Gh¢1,100 as the 53% Fuel Margin from the Fishing community.
“How can he ask us to pay such huge sums of money? Look, Government’s litre price for the Premix fuel is Gh¢1.403p given to the OMCs, and it is sold at the sales points at a cost of Gh¢1.45p. So when you calculate the difference which will be your profit and multiply it by the total consignment, it is obvious that 53% of that difference which is supposed to be deposited into that account would not be up to Gh¢1,100,” an angry fisherman said.
They noted that under the erstwhile NDC government the LBCs were paying Gh¢500.00 and that the current situation is putting them at a very disadvantage position where they will have nothing left but, to be out of business since the Chairman had instructed that whoever fails to pay the Gh¢1,100 will not be supplied the premix-fuel.
The fishermen hinted that the steps taken by the Chairman to open a different account ignoring what the LI stated requesting that each LBC open its own account for the 53% proceed, is borne with ‘criminal intent’ and must not be allowed to continue.
They called for an immediate dissolution of that account so that the LBCs will take charge of their own funds.
“This is our money, we must open our own account and at the end use it to develop our communities,” they said.
The fishermen have seriously lashed out at Nii Lantey Bannerman for conniving with some companies to be diverting the premix fuel. According to them, some people have begun paying the ¢1,100 and these are companies who are able to divert the fuel and make huge profit so as to be able to pay what the Chairman is demanding.
The visibly angry fishermen have also called on the government to institute a full-scale enquiry into the development and stop the account. They are also calling for the removal of Nii Lantey Bannerman as chairman of the committee or government will suffer similar fate like the NDC when they lost heavily in all fishing communities.
“The conduct of this man is only to dent the image of the government and cause defeat. Look the NDC lost based on the mismanagement of the issue on premix. Why must we also be making similar or even worse mistakes?” an aggrieved party faithful asked.
The Chairman, Nii Lantey Bannerman has also ordered that, LBCs must write a letter to him requesting money for their community development before monies in that account will be disbursed.
Meanwhile, according to the LI; “(5.4) a) LBCs shall decide on developmental projects in consultation with the fishing community.
And (b) All developmental projects should be done in consultation with the Metropolitan Municipal District Assemblies (MMDAs).”
This, according to the fishermen and LBCs, is a clear violation of the LI since there is nowhere is it stated that the Chairman shall determine how the funds are disbursed and what projects they are to be used for.
They insisted that the Chairman of the premix committee is trying to collapse their businesses, and pointed out that the fuel had been subsidized by the government with the tax payer’s contributions, therefore no Ghanaian, who is a legitimate fisherman, must be denied the fuel because of the selfish interest of the Chairman.
“Premix is not for the chairman, but for all Ghanaian fishermen,” they stressed.
GO News visit to the area revealed that most of the fishermen and outboard motor operators were frustrated over the ‘callous’ attitude of Nii Lantey Bannerman and called for urgent action to be taken.
GO News visit to most fishing communities and landing beaches revealed that majority of premix fuel sales points are not operating with tanks abandoned due to the unavailability of the product.
The situation is not different at James Town where fishermen are complaining bitterly that as at last week Thursday, they haven’t had supply of premix fuel because they could not pay the money being demanded by the Chairman.
According to them, their business is being affected hence they are now putting funds together to credit the account the chairman is demanding to be able to get the fuel to work.
As a result of the unfortunate development, some party guns who are uncomfortable with the manner in which the Chairman is running the activities of the Committee, have indicated their preparedness to ensure that the Chairman, Nii Lantey Bannerman is put under control.