General News of Monday, 9 October 2017
The management of the University of Professional Studies, UPSA, Accra, has said it will support a planned protest by the students of the institution against a fuel station sited close to the school.
According to the head of environmental safety at UPSA, Maxwell Buaka, the top priority for the University’s management was the safety of the students, and that the Strategic Energies Limited (SEL) station at the site threatens that safety.
He insisted that even though they had not received official notification of the planned action by the students, the school would back them.
“I’ve not spoken to our registrar nor our Vice-Chancellor to know the SRC’s communication, but as and when they want to do something about the filling station, I’m ready to support them,” Maxwell Buaka said.
“We are at UPSA because of the students, if the school does not exist, I would not be there. Whatever will be done to protect the health and safety of our students, management per our mission and vision will also do same in order to protect the students.”
The siting of petrol and gas stations in densely populated residential and commercial areas has been brought under the spotlight again following the explosion at a gas station at Atomic Junction on Saturday which has claimed seven lives so far.
The station, which is located close to the University of Ghana and the Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School, went up in a ball of flame, forcing some students and residents of the area to flee.
Fearing the same fate befalling them in the future, the students of UPSA have decided to take the matter into their own hands and force the station owners to relocate the building by picketing there.
Mr. Buaka stated that, repeated efforts to get the station located, including meetings with the owners had been rebuffed.
“It’s an undeniable fact that we have a fuel station called Strategic Energies Limited (SEL) sited at the Northern Wing of the UPSA which poses a serious threat to the lives of students, our infrastructure and residents as well. The SRC and management of the school have met with the [owner of the station], who happens to be one of the lead members in the petroleum sector – Mr. Blagogee, and we explained the potential hazards it poses. Elsewhere there are precautions with comprehensive firefighting tools like carbon bombs which can be released into infernos to curtail fires, we don’t have that. Look at what happened on Saturday. As an institution, we have always advocated strongly for that station to be closed,” he said.
He also revealed that letters to the District Assembly had gone unanswered, and that the NPA had not given any satisfactory responses to their queries about the location of the station.
“We led a serious campaign to force the EPA and its sister regulatory administrations to have the place closec, but they were very adamant in their responses, indicating that safety precautions have been taken,” he added.
“Our position is that, no human being can curtail infernos when it sparks and therefore proximity to human establishments is very key and there must be a closure of this station. When we wrote to the Municipal Assembly, they never replied to any of our correspondences. EPA gave us some responses which were inadequate and hollow.”
In January 2017, the University vowed to close the station down on their own if prompt measures were not taken to close it.
“We the Students’ Representative Council of the UPSA, are unequivocally protesting against the siting and operation of the fuel station in question, which is too close to the University community,” a statement from the students said.