From L-R: Legal practitioner Bernard Owiredu; Joseph Yaribil from AOMC, Local Economic Development consultant; Arnold Parker, Rev. Daniel Kwao Akah and Director of Public Affairs Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Angelina Mensah
Some 21 high-risk gas and petrol stations have been closed down after cabinet announced sweeping new measures in the wake of the October 7 gas explosion that killed seven people.
This includes an indefinite ban all construction of facilities intended for use as gas or petroleum retail stations.
Political leaders often take these decisions in the immediate aftermath of such disasters but they stop and quickly go back to business as usual as the country waits for the next disaster to strike. That happens because citizens often also take their eyes off the ball too quickly.
That is why Ghanaians cannot afford to forget what happened last Saturday.
Discussing the matter on Ghana Connect on Joy FM was Rev. Daniel Kwao Ackah, Head Pastor of His Banner Christian Centre and Principal Health Tutor at the Nursing and Midwifery Training College, Pantang.
He survived the gas explosion on Saturday. That traumatic experience is one he will never forget.
“Initially I thought it was a plane crash”, he assessed the orange sky after the explosion.
After the second explosion, “the entire house shock” and the “temperature of the house changed” as the heat from the explosion swept through the neighbourhood. He started running.
“Just running” with his wife and children. “You couldn’t stop to help”, he said and testified seeing a pregnant woman taking to her heels and another person fall into a gutter.
Weighing in on the new government measures, the pastor said, “it is a nice document” but as always, the issue, he said is with the implementation.
CEO of AFB Ghana and Local Economic Development Consultant, Arnold Parker said “it is better late than never but never late is better”, he assessed government’s response.
The explosion, he said, “sound more like a regulatory failure.”
The Director of Public Affairs at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Angelina Mensah acknowledged that the EPA is partly responsible for the disaster.
“Why should one run away? We are not running away from what has happened” she said. But she explained that the disaster happened during the discharge of gas at the station which was not properly done.
She said the EPA has no hand in the process of discharging the gas. But the gas station infringed the rules which bar the discharge of gas after 5 pm.
She explained the EPA monitors fuel stations twice a year after it grants a permit to owners of fuel stations. The rise of commercial activities around gas stations is worrying, the Director said.
She wants Ghanaians to boycott these activities pointing out that “environmental protection is a shared responsibility.”
Legal practitioner Bernard Owiredu who spoke for the LPG Marketers Association said gas stations cannot be all blamed for weak safety standards.
He said although some gas stations were not established in residential areas, rapid urbanisation has grown around these stations. For him, the main issue is a proper discharge of fuel, if this is not tackled every other solution would not be good enough.
Another entity that is affected and a major stakeholder in all of this is the Oil Marketing Companies, OMC’s.
Joseph Yaribil who represented them expressed dissatisfaction that the inaction of authorities in checking the springing up of properties around fuel stations.
Listen to the audio: