25.03.2005 General News

Govt to investigate PSC Tema Shipyard fire

25.03.2005 LISTEN

Tema, March 25, GNA - The government is to set up a committee to investigate the cause of a disastrous fire that broke out on a Greek-registered ship, MV Polris, at the Tema PSC Shipyard on Friday that has affected the Tema Oil Refinery, the Minister of Ports, Harbours and Railways has told the GNA.

Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi said the Committee would comprise officials of the Ministries of Ports, Harbours and Railways, Energy and the Interior, he said.

Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi said the government would make alternative arrangements to import fuel as the main pumping line of TOR has been damaged by the ferocious fire that has been raging out of control. The Minister of Energy, Professor Mike Ocquaye on Friday asked the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), to shut down immediately to prevent the spread of a ferocious fire at the PSC Shipyard at Tema to its premises.

The fire that was detected at about 1030 on Good Friday has affected the seawater-pumping house of the Refinery, which serves as a coolant while plumes of thick black smoke have filled the air. The vessel has been burnt completely.

Prof. Ocquaye who was at the disaster scene told the Ghana News Agency that the fire had melted the VALCO conveyor belt in addition to a water pump.

He said the disaster had serious insurance implications hence the presence of representatives of the insurers of TOR to assess the situation critically.

The fire has been raging out of control and the Minister of Health, Major (RTD) Courage Quashigah, who rushed to the scene has sent SOS message to the public for assistance.

Major Quashigah said he was contacting the Ghana Air Force, which has modern fire fighting equipment to assist.

So ferocious is the fire that there are fears that other nearby vessels would be engulfed by the flame.

At least 17 people, made up of 14 Ghanaians, one Guinean, one Greek and one Russian who were carrying out repair works on the vessel when it caught fire are trapped in the vessel and feared dead. Two workers on the vessel, however, were said to have swum to safety.

The vessel, MV Polris, has been undergoing maintenance work for the past three months.

According to reliable sources, the fire was caused by spillage of oil from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) pipeline that had been leaking for the past one week.

Mr Stephen Quansah, a mechanic, told the GNA that he and his colleagues were working on the vessel since morning when they heard the explosion.

The fire was ignited when fire coming from repair works on the vessel caught the oil on the water.

Personnel from the Ghana National Fire Service, Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority and TOR are still battling to bring the fire under control.

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