Embargo On New Fuel Stations ‘Illegal’

A former Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Mahama Ayariga, believes government may be infringing on the rights of some fuel distributors following a directive by the President, halting the construction of petrol/diesel and LPG filling points until further notice.

The order formed part of nine directives from a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, which saw the introduction of nine safety measures to ensure sanity within the fuel distribution chain nationwide following the Atomic Gas explosion.

Mr. Ayariga, a Minister under the Mahama administration, reminded that, he had adopted similar measures following the deadly 2015 June 3 fire and flood disaster, but found the law to be a stumbling block.

“I did similar things and in all fairness, very often I was challenged by people based on law and they were able to show that clearly, in many of the instances, I was wrong,” he noted on the Citi Breakfast Show.

Based on that experience, he suggested that the government needed to “analyze every one of them [fuel stations] to see the legal basis for such decisions, and such directives” before any concrete action is taken in this regard.

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) legislator, insisted that “Cabinet cannot meet and say that suspend work. That is not the job of Cabinet.”

Directives must pass through Parliament
These policy decisions can be deliberated upon by the Cabinet, but must be brought to Parliament for any enforcement, Mr. Ayariga added.

“Cabinet has to show the legal basis for the directive that they have given. I am saying that Cabinet can meet and take policy decisions, but those policy decisions must be brought to Parliament, enacted into law, which then becomes the legal basis to stop people from behaving in a certain way.”

Gov’t must consider investments made
The directive ordering the cessation of the construction of fuel stations, marks the second major clampdown by the government, following the anti-Galamsey campaign championed by Citi FM, where a ban on small-scale mining was placed for six months, with an extension expected to follow soon.

The ban on small-scale mining, and the expected extension, has inconvenienced a number of legal small-scale operators, who have even taken to the streets in protest.

Mr. Ayariga said the government needed to be “mindful of the rights of economic actors who have legitimate expectations because they have obtained permits.

“…you can’t say that everybody who has a permit should suspend operations. That is economically not right, and not fair to people who have legitimate expectations and have secured bank loans and are making investments.”

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