28.03.2005 Press Review

EDITORIAL: Tema Catastrophe

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THE fire disaster that struck the PSC Shipyard and damaged the water house and pipelines of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), the country's only refinery, must be a strong warning that we should not take things for granted.

Reports indicate that there was welding work being done at the shipyard, while caution was thrown to the wind, leading to the fire outbreak.

We are constrained to comment on the cause of the fire outbreak, since a committee has been appointed to go into the matter and come out with its findings.

It is our hope that the assurance given by the Managing Director of TOR, Dr K.K. Sarpong, that the refinery is on top of the issue and that there is no cause for alarm is not only meant to defuse the tension or ease anxieties.

We are, however, happy that there is an insurance cover for the refinery and therefore the pressure on the economy would ease.

It is unfortunate that as the nation struggles with what to do with its petroleum issues, in the face of increases in the price of crude oil and agitations for a downward review of domestic fuel prices such a calamity should befall the nation.

We want to suggest that the area close to the refinery should be reserved for only vessels discharging crude oil. No other vessels should be allowed to berth there. It is unfortunate that whoever was using fire at the time, did not heed the warning allegedly issued out.

Heeding the warning would have averted the disaster. Apart from TOR, the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO) and some other companies are said to have suffered damage caused by the fire outbreak.

Undeniably, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has oversight responsibility for the area. The authority surely derives revenue from the firms operating at the harbour.

Consequently, it has an obligation to ensure that things are put right in the area under its jurisdiction. It is our fervent prayer that all agencies that have responsibilities towards other organisations would act in their best interest, to their mutual benefit.

The nation is just fortunate that the damage is not going to hold us to ransom, going by the assurance from Dr Sarpong that we are out of the danger zone. Our strategic zones must be provided the needed safety and security attention.

Ours is a developing economy and we cannot afford to spend money that could have otherwise been expended on new projects to deal with avoidable and needless disasters.

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