High-risk fuel stations across the country are to be shut-down in a month’s time, following a directive from President Akufo-Addo after Thursday’s crucial cabinet meeting.
The President said this directive will be implemented by a task-force without “regard to any political or special interests.”A statement issued by the presidency and signed by the Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid, after the Cabinet meeting, said the decision, which is one of the nine directives issued out by the President, seeks to in the interim, “give comfort to and ensure the safety of our citizens.”
It said “Deployment of a task force, within 30 days, to assess the risk that our current LPG infrastructure poses in terms of public health and safety. High risk stations will be immediately closed down, in accordance with relevant law and without regard to any political or special interests. Low risk stations will be designated for the supply of gas for vehicles with improved safety standards.”
These directives followed the public outcry in the wake of the massive explosion at an LPG filling station at Atomic Junction.
That explosion has so far claimed at least seven lives and injured over 100 persons. The loss of lives even touched closer to the Presidency, as a presidential correspondent for Net 2 TV lost his life in the commotion sparked by the explosion.
The outrage of the explosion was the culmination of widespread concern over the lax safety standards of some LPG and petrol fill stations, which has seen about eight major explosions since 2014, not counting the June 3 fire and flood disaster at a petrol station near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle.
Implement cylinder circulation program – Nana Addo orders
The President also ordered the implementation of the Cylinder Re-circulation Model of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
The module, proposed by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), will ensure that LPG filling points are sited out of densely populated area and commercial centres.
This is unlikely to go down well with the LPG Marketers Association and the Association of Gas Tanker Drivers, who have in the past kicked against this proposal, citing job losses and other negative impact on their businesses.
The President expects this and some other directives issued after Thursday’s cabinet meeting, to be implemented within a year.
Find below the full statement from the Presidency, which also outlines nine safety measures ordered by hte President after the Cabinet meeting.
NEW GOVERNMENT REGULATORY MEASURES, FOLLOWING GAS EXPLOSION AT ATOMIC JUNCTION
On the evening of 7th October 2017, the nation was shaken by a horrible gas explosion at Atomic Junction in Accra, which led to the loss of seven lives, 132 injuries and the destruction of valuable property. In the past three years, we have been subjected to eight such incidents of explosions. This latest incident was one too many, which we must take all necessary steps to bring to an end.
The importance of gas, and its use in our national economy, requires that we must develop and enforce regulations and practices, and deploy technology to ensure the safe use of gas and safety of our citizens.
At the Cabinet meeting of 12th October 2017, the President of the Republic, on the advice of Cabinet, directed that henceforth the Cylinder Recirculation Model of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) distribution be implemented. This model means that LPG Bottling Plants will be sited away from congested commercial and population centers and will procure, brand, maintain and fill empty cylinders to be distributed to consumers and households through retail outlets. Low risk stations will be designated for the supply of gas to vehicles. This whole exercise must be completed within one year.
In the interim, the President has directed that the following steps be taken to give comfort to and ensure the safety of our citizens:
- immediate inspection of all gas stations and the vigorous enforcement of existing regulations by the National Petroleum Authority;
- review of the current licensing regime to ensure that only those with demonstrable capacity and competence engage in the LPG distribution business;
- institution of mandatory training and certification of the staff of Regulators, Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and LPG Marketing Companies to ensure the safe handling of LPG;
- review the safety protocols along the entire value chain through the combined efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), National Fire Service (NFS), Town and Country Planning Department of the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Factories Inspectorate Department of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations;
- deployment of a task force, within 30 days, to assess the risk that our current LPG infrastructure poses in terms of public health and safety. High risk stations will be immediately closed down, in accordance with relevant law and without regard to any political or special interests. Low risk stations will be designated for the supply of gas for vehicles with improved safety standards;
- the immediate incorporation of standards and guidelines developed by Ghana Standards Authority on the handling, storage and distribution of LPG and other petroleum products as technical regulations to strengthen the enforcement regime;
- the recruitment by NPA of 200 safety auditors to join the staff of the Factories Inspectorate Department of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations to check regularly on all stations to ensure full compliance with safety standards and practices;
- expedition of action by the Fire Service and the Police Service of on-going investigations. Any operator or regulatory official, against whom any act of criminal negligence is established, will face the full rigors of the law;
- immediate cessation, until further notice, of all construction of facilities intended for use as gas or petroleum retail stations.
The safety of citizens is the paramount objective of Government, and the President will take all necessary steps to ensure that citizens are safe.
Hon. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid
Minister for Information
By: Ebenezer AAfanyi Dadzie/citifmonline.com/Ghana