The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) in collaboration with the Western Naval command and marine police Wednesday arrested eight persons suspected to be engaged in illegal bunkering.
The arrest was made during a routine patrol on the sea to check activities of the Takoradi area.
The eight are currently in the custody of Ghana marine police while the wooden boat called Dendey is at the anchorage at the Western Naval command.
The wooden boat with the capacity of about 55,000 to 60 000 tons of oil was arrested Wednesday morning due to suspected illegal bunkering activities.
The growing activities of these illegal boats, locally called Dendeys, is becoming a menace in the Takoradi area.
Disguised as fishing boats, these massive wooden vessels, with the storage capacity of tens of thousands of litres and propelled by twin-outboard motors, go to the high seas, mostly at night where criminal tanker ships dock.
Tons of fuel is pumped from the tankers into these wooden boats which sail to different beaches and discharge their content into fuel tankers on the blind side of tax and other regulatory authorities.
The Head of the Ghana Maritime Authority at Takoradi Captain William E. Thompson said 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 it has become difficult to account for them.
Captain Thompson said the oil in the boat was stolen and its source is a worry to the entire country especially when the oil ends up on the market.
“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 disclosed that six illegal boats have been seized 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.”
The Director of Marine Police ACP Seidu Iddi Lancer said the eight will soon be arraign 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.
The Ghana Maritime Authority, regulators of the maritime industry, say they are taking immediate steps to acquire the necessary legal authority that will allow them to seize and destroy the wooden boats used for illegal fuel business in the coast along the Takoradi enclave.