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Goil

The Energy Commission is threatening to disconnect all fuel and gas stations found to have critical electrical problems.

The Commission is set to embark on a nationwide audit of gas and fuel filling stations to ensure that electrical installations and wiring conforms to standard to prevent fire outbreaks.

According to the commission, wiring and installations of gas and fuel filling stations require special electronic installations due to the flammable environment in which they operate.

The Commission has also threatened to disconnect public facilities including MMDA’s, Hotels among others found to have critical electrical problems as part of the full enforcement of the Electrical Wiring regulation 2011(LI.2008).

This was made known by the Lead Officer of the Electrical Wiring Program at the Energy Commission, Solomon Sarpong during an interview at Koforidua, last week.

This comes on the heels of a gas explosion at the Atomic Junction in Accra which killed seven people with over 132 people suffering various degrees of injuries.

Several Ghanaians including politicians and policy implementers have called for the close down of all fuel and gas stations sited in the residential areas and commercial hubs.

Following the recent gas station explosion at Atomic junction, scores of students of the University of Professional Studies – Accra (UPSA), staged a demonstration on campus against the siting of a fuel station close to the school.

Similar protests have taken place in other areas in Accra. The government has indicated that it will come out with some decisions at cabinet level, to address the situation, and prevent such fires in the future.

However, Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) say attacks on them by a section of Ghanaians are unwarranted.

The Chairman for the Association of Oil Marketing Companies, Mr. Agyemang Duah believes demonstrations against some legitimate retail outlets with calls for their closure should be reconsidered.

Mr Duah commiserated with the families of the victims but added that, they (OMCs) are also Ghanaians making a living by legally investing in the petroleum industry with no intentions of harming society.

He mentioned that some information in the public domain appears to be inaccurate and misleading.

“Safety is a shared responsibility and operators, regulators, agencies, customers, the general public and the government are to ensure its realization,” he said.

According to him, OMCs are conformed with safety standards and sited in areas for the purpose by the Town Planning Department and that the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) only grants an applicant a construction permit when all the various requirements have been met.

These include a letter from the Town Planning Department, EPA permit, Building permit by MMDA’s, fire permit by Ghana National Fire Service, Ghana Standard Authority certification among others.

Mr. Duah emphasized that the association will not shield members who violate rules and regulations that endanger lives and properties, but was keen on thorough investigation in dealing with culprits.

He cautioned customers and the general public to adhere to warning signs at filling stations, thus switching off engines, avoid smoking in the confined space, and others as requested by fuel attendants.

Moreover, Mr Duah has urged government to formulate a holistic policy on fire outbreaks

In the past years, a number gas and fuel stations explosions have been recorded with over 200 lives claimed and close to a thousand suffering with various injuries.

The most recent explosion which happened at Atomic junction, closely located to the University of Ghana hostels and Presbyterian Boys SHS, Legon, claimed seven lives leaving over 130 injured.

Due to this, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed that construction of facilities intended for use as gas or petroleum retail stations must be stopped with immediate effect.

He also instructed that high risk LPG stations should be closed down immediately, in accordance with relevant law “without regard to any political or special interests”.

The directive with regards to the LPG stations is to be carried out after a risk assessment of the current infrastructure has been carried out. A taskforce is to be deployed within 30 days to undertake the exercise.

The President’s decision was arrived at after a Cabinet meeting. Last week Thursday, the Information Ministry announced that the president upon 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.”

But, the OMCs owners further appealed to the government to undertake a thorough examination of the Atomic Junction Gas explosion before it comes out with a national policy on fire outbreaks at the pumps.

“The unparalleled marauding, demonstrations against some legitimate retail outlets and hitting the panic button “exemplified” by the wanton closure of retail outlets in a rambo style by some unrepentant MMDCEs in an industry regulatory by specific bodies, is unwarranted and must be condemned with all the attempt it deserves,” Mr Duah said.

“This has innate results of culminating in chaos and anarchy in the society and inflaming passion among the citizenry thereby creating disaffection for OMCs/LPGMs,” he warned.

Mr Duah stated that, OMCs/LPGMs are neither ‘monsters’ nor ‘criminals’, but are Ghanaians making a living by legally investing in the petroleum industry.

“Some marketers have their administrative offices within the confines of such outlets. Therefore, our intent to have a safe operation of our outlets cannot be in doubt,” he maintained.

Mr Duah suggested that, the situation rather calls for a sober deep-seated thought, through unbiased and unfettered investigations to unearth the root causes, and furnish the nation with sustained corrective and preventive actions, which will inform the public in a positive manner, whilst consolidating or improving the existing industry standards for public safety.

-Adnan Adams Mohammed

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