Flood/fire disaster: Look beyond Goil, our safety culture is lagging – Senyo Hosi

The Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distribution Companies (C-BDCs) says vilifying Goil for the disastrous explosion that killed over 100 last week may serve as a loophole for the real culprits to escape.

Senyo Hosi said it is too early for the blame for Wednesday’s explosion to be pinned on the state-owned oil marketing company.

He believes the leakage that provided the fuel for the fire which compounded a flood disaster could have come from an adjoining petrol stations.

In the midst of torrential rains which sunk large parts of the capital, fuel leaked most probably from a petrol station around the Kwame Nkrumah Circle.

A spark some 300 metres away from the Goil Filling station adjacent the GCB Bank towers went up in flames consuming the more than 100 people sheltering at the station and nearby shops.

Since the disaster, some Ghanaians have faulted managers of the station for failing to adhere to proper safety procedures.

Government has taken steps to close down fuel stations considered unsafe and which were built without permits.

But Senyo Hosi, who heads the chamber of the companies that import and distribute fuel says the problem goes beyond just Goil.

He told Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Tuesday “Goil is just one of various storage facilities that exist within that neighbourhood so the spillage or the displacement of hydrocarbons could have happened from adjoining stations or other storage facilities with Goil on the waterway so let’s allow the investigations to conclude.”

He said the leakage would never have happened if the laid down safety procedures were followed so the “systems we currently have may have failed us and to that extent, it is important that all storage facilities that are still governed by the same industry operating systems are checked to ensure their integrity.”

According to him, the Environmental Protection Agency, which sets safety requirements for the establishment fuel station tank farms for the storage of fuel, should take a more active role in ensuring that systems are followed not only at the point of establishment but throughout the operations of the companies.

Safety, in the petroleum business, he said, is paramount and last week’s disaster should form the basis for a reassessment and reevaluation of the safety procedures at petrol stations and storage facilities in the country.

He expressed concern that there do not appear to be standard safety operating procedures at every fuel station and tank farms which are checked on a daily basis to ensure compliance.

For him, the impression should not be created that filling stations necessarily pose a danger to residents; that is only the case if safety procedures are not followed.

But there is an even bigger problem – the lack of appreciation of safety by a larger majority of Ghanaians, he bemoaned.

“The problem is our monitoring of safety standards and enforcement of a safety culture which is lagging in Ghana. How many of us in our homes even keep a fire extinguisher? We don’t see it as a necessity; people keep fire extinguishers in their cars because they think the police may just arrest them…we have a culture problem and it has radiated through every industry,” he said.

Senyo Hosi said the lax attitude towards safety generally cannot be allowed to permeate through the petroleum industry because the consequences are grave.

“The petroleum industries worldwide and mining industries worldwide are the benchmarks for best practices as far as safety is concerned,” he emphasized.

He said “we must work on our general safety culture as a people.”

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