The full deregulation of the downstream petroleum industry took effect yesterday with a four per cent increment in petroleum prices.
But drivers have decried the increase and have asked the Ghana Road Transport Coordinating Council (GRTCC) and the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) to adjust transport fares because they are suffering.
The new price has been highlighted on the notice boards of the Oil Marketing Companies’ (OMCs’) outlets across the country.
While the Ghana Oil Company Limited (GOIL) maintained the old price of GH¢3.33 per litre for petrol, the other OMCs have increased their prices.
The new price indicated on the notice boards of other OMCs is GH¢3.46 pesewas for a litre of petrol.
Explaining the rationale behind the full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector to the Daily Graphic in Accra Tuesday, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Mr Moses Asaga, said although the NPA had given full backing to the OMCs and Bulk Oil Distributors (BDCs) to set their own prices, his outfit would continue to monitor their activities to ensure the protection of consumers.
“What we are saying is that in this first step of full deregulation of ex-pump price, there is an indicative price setting based on international market price for petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and the depreciation of the cedi which are the factors that led to the four per cent increment,” Mr Asaga explained.
He said the four per cent increment was the maximum price at which the OMCs could set their prices but indicated that they reserved the right to sell below the indicative price.
“This new measure would create competition in the industry but the NPA will continue to give the indicative price and direct all OMCs to go by it,” Mr Asaga said.
Mr Asaga said the OMCs would do the computation of the prices based on existing indicators and later forward their prices to the NPA for publication.
Under the NPA Act, prices of petroleum products are supposed to be uniform across the country, irrespective of whether or not more funds are expended in transporting those products.
Per the new arrangement, the continuation of price uniformity would be OMC-specific. Thus, prices should be the same at all departments.
Mr Asaga gave the assurance that the NPA would protect the public interest and urged the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) to be active.
A press release issued by the NPA in Accra last Monday stated that the NPA would monitor the application of the Prescribed Petroleum Pricing Formula to ensure that all petroleum service providers applied the formula in the right way and that defaulters would be duly sanctioned.
In Accra, Emelia Ennin Abbey reports that some commercial drivers described the four per cent increase in fuel prices as unreasonable, since they were yet to increase transportation fares since the last upward adjustment over a month ago.
The motorists said commercial drivers were directed to not increase transport fares following the increase in the prices of fuel but apart from the increase in fuel prices, the prices of some products such as vehicle spare parts and lubricants had also gone up.
The development, they said, had resulted in a depletion of their resources since their expenditure had gone up but their income had dwindled.
“We were waiting for our leaders to come up with a review of transportation fares but while that was yet to happen the four per cent increase has been announced. Why should we be made to suffer all the time,” asked Nana Kwesi Agyeman, one of the drivers.
In an interview, Mr Agyeman who has been plying the Accra-Kumasi road for the past 18 years, criticised the NPA for deregulating the fuel supply industry.
“It is like blank cheques for whoever feels the need to balance the books by plundering drivers' pockets,” he said.
However, another driver, Mr Yaw Asumani, a member of the Accra-Nkawkaw GPRTU Circle Neoplan branch, was of the view that the deregulation would ensure transparency in the industry.
“The point we are making is that drivers can now see what is happening between wholesale fuel prices and prices at the pump. I absolutely think there will be more transparency.”
He also said as oil marketing companies display their pump prices, "It would be much fairer, and allow motorists to decide where to buy their fuel. You will know who is trying to make an honest living and who is being greedy. It would be helpful to the motorists.”
Reports from the regions yesterday indicated that while some fuel stations were charging old prices, others had effected the new prices. From Bolgatanga, Vincent Amenuveve reports that some fuel stations in the Bolgatanga municipality were waiting for confirmation from their superiors in Accra before charging the new prices.
A visit to some fuel stations in the municipality showed that they were still charging the old fuel prices.
At the Total and Nasona fuel stations, for instance, the fuel attendants were still charging the old prices.
A gallon of petrol sold at the old price of GH¢14.985, while diesel sold at GH¢14.58 at the Total fuel stations.
Some filling stations in Koforidua are selling one litre of petrol at GH¢3.47 and diesel at GH¢3.37, compared to the previous GH¢3.33 and GH¢3.45, respectively reports George Folley.
At the Nasona fuel station, petrol was sold at GH¢3.45 per litre, while diesel remained a the old price.
The prices at all the Total fuel stations had not been changed.
Meanwhile some transport owners interviewed by the Daily Graphic called on the hierarchy of the GPRTU to adjust fares upwards since most of them were suffering.
In the Sunyani municipality, Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah reports that some fuel stations responded to the full implementation of the deregulation policy by slightly adjusting their prices upwards, while others were yet to increase their prices.
At the Total fuel station, the Assistant Manager, Mr Richard Boahen, told the Daily Graphic that their price of petrol had been increased from GH¢3.33 per litre to GH¢3.47, while the price of diesel had also been increased from GH¢3.24 to GH¢3.37 per litre.
Kerosene also increased from GH¢3.19 per litre to GH¢3.32 per litre.
At the Goil and Shell fuel stations near the Poly Roundabout there had not been any increase at the time of the reporter's visit but a fuel attendant at the Shell fuel station, Mr Ruben Ayitey, explained that the manager was at a meeting with his colleagues.
A taxi driver who pleaded anonymity said "we cannot wait for increases in fares to be announced from Accra before we start increasing our fares."
From Ho, Tim Dzamboe reports that almost all the fuel stations have increased the prices of their products.
Accordingly, a litre of diesel which was selling at GH¢3.24 was now selling at the GH¢3.37, while a litter of petrol was selling at GH¢3.33 was now selling at GH¢3.47.