General News of Tuesday, 10 October 2017
Gas explosions in Ghana are gradually becoming a regular phenomenon in recent times. From 2014 to date, there have been a total of eight (8) gas explosions, and this has resulted in the loss of lives, destruction of properties worth millions of Ghana Cedis and the disfiguring of individuals who are perhaps minding their own business or escaping from uncontrollable raging flames.
It appears, however very disturbing that, gradually, Ghanaians are becoming accustomed to these gas explosions in our hopelessness.
There is no doubt that the government of Ghana is wasting scarce state resources on many agencies without a commensurate benefit to the state. AFAG believes that some agencies have consciously chosen to serve the special interest of individuals instead of ordinary Ghanaian citizens.
Two such state agencies gaining notoriety are the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Rarely have these state agencies made a headline for good reasons. With all the noise and regulatory powers entrusted to them, these institutions have not been able to live up to the expectations expected of them.
The question AFAG puts forward now is which gas station and for that matter community is next?
The indifferent attitude of these mandatory state agencies on enforcing the laws in the siting of gas and fuel stations at residential or densely populated areas to the detriment of the public is a matter of great concern for AFAG and millions of other Ghanaians.
AFAG sympathises with the NPP government on this issue because they have obviously inherited some dysfunctional state agencies where some technocrats and public servants would somewhat satisfy their interests by granting permits to undeserving entities to build death traps for unsuspecting Ghanaians to get killed, harmed or their properties destroyed.
We sympathise with the government on this occasion nonetheless it must be a turning point to crack the whip. The good people of this country need answers. We have confidence in this NPP government to fix the inherited mess and apparent lack of adherence to regulations by mandated state agencies to see to the public interest.
AFAG holds the view that the Regulatory Authorities, notably the Energy Commission, National Petroleum Authority and the Environmental agency must take the lion’s share of the blame for the blasts that are slaughtering and mutilating Ghanaians.
The failure of these institutions in ensuring the implementation and enforcement of safety measures by owners and operators of gas stations is a significant cause of these blasts. These agencies seem to equate “talk” to action.
They come to life when disaster strikes and go to sleep once these catastrophes leave the newspaper headlines.
We call on the Minister for Energy and the Minister for Environment to, as a matter of urgency to investigate individuals within the NPA and the EPA who have granted permits to businesses to build gas and fuel stations without due diligence and procedure. These technocrats and civil servants are the real enemies of this nation and must be smoked out and punished accordingly.
AFAG calls for a Commission of Enquiry on the recent gas explosion among other recent explosions, which have cost the nation in nearly two hundred lives among other costs.
Mr. President, it is also our firm belief that Ghana needs an independent Health and Safety Commission with the full powers of closure and prosecution going forward.
Finally, we implore the government to close down any of these structures sited in any residential area to prevent a possible explosion that could result in the loss of life and damage to properties.