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General News of Sunday, 15 October 2017


Some officials should have been fired for Atomic explosion – Lawyer

Given the loss of lives in the Atomic Junction explosion, a legal practitioner, Rainer Akumperigya, believes there should have been some resignations or sackings coming from the institutions mandated by law with supervisory responsibility.

“My guess is that, if you want to demonstrate how reprehensive morally this thing is, you would want to resign. That is one way of showing that you don’t want this to happen,” he said on The Big Issue.

Following the explosion, the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) boss, Hassan Tampuli, revealed that his outfit had identified some safety lapses at the MANSCO Liquefied Petroleum Gas station, where the explosion occurred, and had written to the station, among others, to rectify the lapses by September 4.

The NPA noted that, there was too much activity on the forecourt around the cylinder filling and auto gas area, and that there was a lack of safety signs and the absence of a waiting area for customers.

The Environmental Protection Agency admitted some culpability, but said some other agencies also had various roles to play in regulating the operations of the station.

Given that the lapses as admitted by the NPA led to seven deaths with 132 injured, Mr. Akumperigya insisted that, the country appears to be shying away from the institutional failings that led to the disaster.

“If someone causes the death of another person, there should be something higher for the person to pay, and the least you can pay is to resign from your position or be sacked. I think that their position is already untenable to the extent that, these were existing factors prior to the fire, and that immediate causative factor was exactly what was diagnosed by the NPA.”

Last chance for NPA Boss, others

Also speaking on The Big Issue, the Executive Director of the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers, Duncan Amoah, noted that, recent directives from the President to bolster the safety in LPG distribution were effectively a final chance to the heads of organisations like the EPA, the NPA, and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA).

“What this Cabinet resolution is doing to the NPA, GSA and the EPA is saying that, if there are any more accidents today or tomorrow, those authority heads should no longer sit in those offices because their terms will be untenable… If people had been punished [after the June 3 disaster and other explosions], we probably wouldn’t have gotten here,” Mr. Amoah said.

Directives from the President

In the wake of that Atomic explosion and the subsequent pressure from the public, President Akufo-Addo directed the following:

1. Immediate inspection of all gas stations and the vigorous enforcement of existing regulations by the National Petroleum Authority;

2. Review of the current licensing regime to ensure that only those with demonstrable capacity and competence engage in the LPG distribution business;

3.Institution of mandatory training and certification of the staff of Regulators, Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and LPG Marketing Companies to ensure the safe handling of LPG;

4. Review the safety protocols along the entire value chain through the combined efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), National Fire Service (NFS), Town and Country Planning Department of the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Factories Inspectorate Department of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations;

5. Deployment of a task force, within 30 days, to assess the risk that our current LPG infrastructure poses in terms of public health and safety. High risk stations will be immediately closed down, in accordance with relevant law and without regard to any political or special interests. Low risk stations will be designated for the supply of gas for vehicles with improved safety standards;

6. The immediate incorporation of standards and guidelines developed by Ghana Standards Authority on the handling, storage and distribution of LPG and other petroleum products as technical regulations to strengthen the enforcement regime;

7. The recruitment by NPA of 200 safety auditors to join the staff of the Factories Inspectorate Department of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations to check regularly on all stations to ensure full compliance with safety standards and practices;

8. Expedition of action by the Fire Service and the Police Service of on-going investigations. Any operator or regulatory official, against whom any act of criminal negligence is established, will face the full rigors of the law;

9.Immediate cessation, until further notice, of all construction of facilities intended for use as gas or petroleum retail stations.