The Ghana Standards Authority has mounted a defence of the importation of substandard diesel fuel into the country, claiming fuels with non toxic sulphur chemicals are expensive for people to afford.
A report by campaign group, Public Eye, revealed Swiss firms have been exporting to Africa, diesel with toxin levels that are illegal in Europe.
Vitol, Trafigura, Addax & Oryx and Lynx Energy have been named in the trade which the report blamed on weak regulatory standards in the African continent.
Public Relations Officer of the Authority, Amponsah Bediako, explained that fuel products that do not contain toxic Sulphur chemicals are too expensive that the country cannot afford.
“The products coming in may contain a lot of sulphur, but that is our standard, and should not be termed substandard,” he told 3FM.
He assured that the levels of sulphur in fuels brought into the country will be brought down to protect the health of Ghanaians but that will come at an additional cost.
“We shall bring the levels of sulphur very low and protect the health of people, but that will mean a lot of money close to over one billion dollars. If we are not willing to spend that much money it will not be that possible,” Mr Bediako said. M
eanwhile, the executive secretary of the Ghana Chamber of Petroleum Consumers, Duncan Amoah, says it will ensure that consumers get value for money.
“I can assure you that whatever it takes to make these authorities answer to us will be done soon. We will engage them till they give us the needed answers,” said Some drivers have meanwhile claimed regular faults with their vehicles due to the substandard fuels that are sold at the pumps across the country.
50% petroleum products on the market dangerous
A comprehensive report by the Africa Centre for Energy Policy, ACEP, has revealed that about 50% of imported petroleum products which come into the country contain dangerous Sulphur chemicals.
According to a commodities researcher, Gian Valentino Viredaz, the findings from Ghana is alarming.
“Our findings are indisputable, we went round some fuel stations in Africa and sampled them in Netherlands and it came out that, the diesel and other fuel products sold in Africa are sub standard, and they come with a lot of health issues. It is a very important issue that should be raised,” he said.
But chief executive of the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors, Senyo Horsi, says the findings of the report are not completely accurate as petroleum products in the country are of better standards than what is sold in the United States.
He said: “The products we get in this country are well in standard much better than the standard sets. What we should be looking at is improvements in standards, which should start from the authorities”.
Mr Horsi blamed policy makers for settling for cheap petroleum products, explaining that issue of cost is the major determinant in settling for petroleum products.
“It’s a policy decision that comes with cost implications, and we need to look at this. We will definitely look at this,” he told 3FM But Viredaz argued the justification is flawed, saying “if it’s a cost issue then it cannot hold. Other east African countries have shown that it is possible to import good quality products.