Within the last three years, Ghana as a country has witnessed about 8 explosions at fuel stations which claimed over 200 lives alongside properties. Out of the 8 fire explosions, Accra, the capital city has witnessed about 6, which claimed over 160 lives, Takoradi has witnessed one and kasoa has also witnessed one. The recent gas explosion at Atomic junction claimed about 7 lives and destroyed properties.
These gas explosions have sparked controversies all centered on the safety of people as well as properties. The June 3rd gas explosion at Kwame Nkrumah Circle raised various concerns about the safety of people in and around the station, giving salience to Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB Towers) which is situated just beside the station. These have resulted in suggestions such as relocation of fuel stations out of the reach of households and people. The recent one is a protest by the University for Professional Studies to relocate a fuel station which shares wall with the school. I personally think this demonstration is a step in the right direction, because the government and key stakeholders have given blind eyes and deaf ears to some of these important issues irrespective of they knowing the hazards associated.
I commend Ghana for such awesome suggestions and pleas, nevertheless I seriously do not understand why attention have been drifted away from the fact that mounting a supermarket, restaurant, and other market ventures within the confines of fuel stations posses a very dangerous threat to humanity. It seem Ghanaians feel its normal for such ventures to be on the same compound with fuel stations, but strongly oppose the closeness of households, schools, and other buildings to these same stations.
A rough observation of fuel stations in Accra reveals that most stations have supermarkets, parking lots and restaurants, which undoubtedly serve as a rest stop for people. This, in my take is very wrong. If we cherish human life that much then there is a need to stop operating these ventures around fuel stations. Various incidents of fire explosion rendered these ventures burnt beyond recognition. If these buildings were burnt beyond recognition, then what happened to the people in them? Let us remember that these ventures always have people in them, so a disaster is sure to claim as many lives as possible. The question I ask myself recently is, should fuel or gas stations be used as rest stops?
If the government thinks a fuel station is a package that comes with supermarkets, restaurants, amd parking lots, then the quest to draft reforms to ensure safety of individuals around stations are needless. It is about time the government and Non-governmental organizations value the lives of people and stop acting lackadaisical over issues of gas explosions. Its about time the government arrest people who request to mount market ventures around fuel stations; personally, I categorize them as potential murderers. It’s about time the government prohibits operation of market ventures in fuel stations. Individuals should also stop encouraging businesses in fuel stations if they value their lives. This in my opinion, will safe most lives in cases of unexpected disasters.
Written by: Nora Asiedu