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Opinions of Thursday, 12 December 2013

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

Disaster Waiting to Happen at Tema Oil Refinery

Alex Bossman Baafi

The Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) Limited is the only precious refinery in our country. It has the mandate to process crude oil and market petroleum products. Many pioneer inhabitants of Tema still refer to the company as ‘GHAIP’ this is because it was originally named the ‘Ghanaian Italian Petroleum (GHAIP) company’ and incorporated as a private limited liability company under the companies ordinance on December 12, 1960.

History has it that it was 100% owned by Ente Nationalie Indrocarburi (ENI) Group of Italy before the government of Ghana bought all the shares of GHAIP in April 1977 thereby becoming the sole shareholder. Later in 1990, the name GHAIP was changed to Tema Oil Refinery, (TOR).

TOR has the vision to become a first class petroleum refinery in Africa. To achieve this, TOR has made its mission to provide quality petroleum product and services primarily in Ghana mainly through the refinery of crude oil in a safe, efficient, cost effective and environmentally friendly manner to satisfy customer needs and to increase the value of the shareholder.

Despite the government support and the monopoly environment TOR has operated over the years, I think it will be fair to say that TOR has failed the good people of Ghana. Successive governments had made several unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate the company to its former GHAIP days. In my humble opinion TOR’s leadership has failed to pursue its vision by using its mission as the roadmap to get to its destination. This is because though it has the capability and capacity to refine crude oil; it is NOT executing its operations in a safe and environmentally friendly manner as stated in the company’s mission.

The landscape outside the refinery where the Long Heavy duty Vehicles queue and wait to fuel or fill their vehicle is an eyesore. It is in a very deplorable state and unfit for TOR as part of its business infrastructure. Even all the major roads leading to the company’s premises are in very deplorable and fast deteriorating state. There is mud and filth all over the place. There is no order. There is congestion of heavy long vehicles everywhere blocking all roads all the time. It prevents workers driving to their work places like Valco, Aluworks and the free-zone areas including commuters to Kpone to have easy access to pass through. A typical example is what happened last Monday December 2, 2013. The whole place got jammed up for more than eight good hours crippling the entire business of companies around TOR including innocent people wanting to use the route to VALCO and Kpone destinations. It was really disgusting and such horrible incidents keep on happening virtually every day.

My worry is that, as a result of the aforesaid, the environment in which TOR is now operating is not safe. Should any eventuality like fire disaster happen (my mouth is not a gun), we will stand to lose huge lives and properties because there would be no escape route for anybody or anything that may happen to be around. This is my worry. It gives me sleepless nights as a concerned citizen of our country. Any time I use that stretch of the road I pray to God to have mercy on us.

SUGGESTIONS

It is my humble appeal to either the government or the management of TOR or both to make it a duty to get the landscape outside the company in order. One may say that we are living in this mess because there is no money. I totally disagree and suggest that they borrow money and either use pavement blocks or asphalt the whole landscape in front of the company premises and neatly mark parking spaces for the vehicle to use, starting from the traffic light to the end of the company fence wall joining the neighbor GOIL Gas Depot which I hope would bring order and safety to the place.
Now because of the financial consideration involved, I further suggest that the authority that will execute the project should be allowed to charge Parking Fees mainly to be paid by the long vehicles drivers according the weight/size of their vehicles in support of the maintenance of the infrastructure in front of TOR.

Again the road and landscape project should take into account provision of toilet facilities including bathrooms and canteens for use mostly by client drivers who spend days around the company premises in search for fuel which is in short supply virtually every day, also at a fee for quality service.

When the above appeal fall into death ears, then the appeal must be embraced by the Kpone-Katamanso Metropolitan Assembly or Tema Metropolitan Assembly (whoever is in charge of the jurisdiction of TOR) if possible, because I am confident it is a viable project that will pay off.

In my candid opinion, the advantages of the proposed project are that; it will guarantee safe environmentally friendly operating conditions for TOR in the long-term. The investment will generate revenue for the investor of say TOR. It will also enhance effective and efficient operations as delays will be minimized. It will also improve the sanitation problems especially when it rains as compared to its current muddy state and go a long way to beatify the environment of the company. It will boost company’s prestige, image and confidence of staff to improve productivity. Above all, TOR will be on forward march to fulfill its vision of becoming the first class petroleum refinery in Africa thereby attracting a lot of tourists from Africa and beyond to improve the bottom line of TOR.

If I were the powers that be, this would be my vision to change the destiny the company of disaster waiting to happen to a world class refinery of choice.