It took over two years for the government to seriously put in place safety measures to protect lives and property from the risks associated with the siting of fuel stations.
The five-member committee tasked to probe the June 3, 2015, fire and flood disaster, recommended a review of siting of fuel stations and highlighted the need for stricter safety measures.
[contextly_sidebar id=”nLGetNxGw762LLfjZEsxk1wO35mCqYkz”]A leaked report, sighted by Citi News said: “the NPA, EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] and GNFS [Ghana Fire Service], should ensure that the siting of fuel stations and gas stations is critically examined and safety measures put in place to save lives and property.”
The report also said “the NPA should conduct regular unannounced inspections of retail outlets even in the night, and document all such inspections,” among other recommendations.
But no serious signals, safety-wise, were seen from the government or regulatory authorities despite the scale of the June 3 disaster which claimed 154 lives and injured over 150 persons.
It however took the massive explosion in October 2017, at an LPG filling station at Atomic Junction, where seven lives were lost for any serious action from the government.
State has gone to sleep
The Bureau of Public Safety, in a statement, said it leaked the report in the interest of the public.
It said state institutions responsible for instituting corrective actions by implementing recommendations had either failed to discharge themselves fully or had simply gone to sleep following the disaster.
It thus urged the government to revisit all accident investigation reports since 2012 “to review and evaluate recommendations submitted.”
The Bureau added that, this will ensure the implementation “of corrective measures proposed by the various investigation teams.”
The outrage, following the explosion, highlighted the widespread concern over the lax safety standards of some LPG and petrol filling stations, which has seen about six major explosions and multiple deaths since then, not counting the June 3 fire and flood disaster at a petrol station.
In October 2017, the government announced some key interventions, among which fuel stations deemed high-risk across the country were to be shut-down and the construction of petrol/diesel and LPG filling points halted.
In all the President directed the:
- 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.
By: Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana