Illegal mining activities in parts of the Manso enclave in the Ashanti Region have been identified as a key driver of the purchase of diverted fuel smuggled by bulk road vehicles (BRVs).

The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) describes the situation as worrying, indicating that at least 13 fuel tankers have been impounded for engaging in this illegality between March and October this year.

The vehicles, according to the Ashanti regional manager of the NPA, Betty Nana Adwoa Ofori, have been transported to Accra, pending prosecution.

Nana Adwoa Ofori said robust systems have been developed to check the menace, with support from the Ghana Police Service.

“Most of the trucks impounded are from the Manso areas due to the illegal mining activities there. [And with our systems] we track every BRV, and with the help of the Ghana Police, the numbers are decreasing”, she said.

The NPA is courting media support to help deal with other violations, including inadequate handling of petroleum products, poor communication, and inadequate training for fuel attendants.

Nana Adwoa believes the media plays a critical role in educating the public on the “safety and precautions they have to take” to deal with these common violations.

Meanwhile, the NPA will, starting next year, initiate legal proceedings against criminal offences falling under the National Petroleum Authority Act 2005 (ACT 691) and its related regulations.

This development comes in the wake of the appointment of a public prosecutor by the Attorney General’s office to handle criminal cases arising from this Act.

Farida Ali Musa, head of legal at the NPA said, “There were some issues that were thrown out by the court for want of prosecution. The criminals at other times go unpunished, with some being fined and that was not deterrent enough.

“So, the NPA met the Attorney General and it was granted a fiat to appoint our officers to prosecute matter for and on behalf of the NPA. The good thing is that the AG gave us the mandate to prosecute issues right from the lower court to the Supreme Court. So hopefully by next year, the NPA will begin to prosecute all such cases”, she added.