29.03.2005 General News

Kufuor inspects fire scene at Tema Shipyard

Kufuor inspects fire scene at Tema Shipyard
LISTEN MAR 29, 2005

Tema, March 29, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Tuesday inspected the havoc caused by the fire outbreak at the PSC Tema Shipyard at Tema on Good Friday.

Installations affected were the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) pumping station and pipeline, VALCO conveyor belt, VRA pumping house and other adjoining companies--the Kiku Cold Store and Dolphins Shipping Companies.

A Togolese registered vessel, MV Polaris, which had been undergoing maintenance work for three months at the PSC Tema Shipyard's Slipway adjacent to the TOR pipeline and VALCO conveyor belt caught fire with the loss of at least 17 lives. Firemen have retrieved 15 bodies. Sparks from welding works on the vessel allegedly caused the fire upon contact with oil slick from the TOR pipeline.

President Kufuor called for a probe into the circumstances that led to the location of the vessel very close to the TOR pipeline, which was about 20 metres to 30 metres away.

"We have to probe into who authorised the vessel to come so near to the TOR pipeline. The technical person on the work should have known better given the proximity of the vessel to the pipeline and made to explain. The pipeline is barely 20 metres to 30 metres away."

President Kufuor stressed the need for the establishment of a specialised authority under the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GHAPOHA) with membership of various institutions that operated at the Harbour for effective supervision.

He called on the workers to be tolerant and to allow measures taken by the Government to investigate the accident to grind to its logical conclusion.

Dr Kofi Kodua Sarpong, Managing Director of TOR, told President Kufuor that personnel of TOR undertook daily inspection of the pipeline to check on any unusual leakage.

He said an LPG Gas leakage was detected and rectified. On the day of the incident personnel of TOR on their normal routine checks detected a leakage but there were some petroleum products on the pipeline that had to be emptied.

Dr Sarpong said after the petroleum products had been emptied and before they could return to rectify the situation the fire outbreak occurred.

Mr Stephen Quansah, a mechanic, told the Ghana News Agency on Friday that he and his colleagues, who had been working on the vessel, heard the explosion at exactly 1030 hours followed by the fire. Firemen from the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) in Accra, the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority and TOR fought the fire for several hours.

The Government has set up a seven-member committee under the chairmanship of Nana Stephen Owusu Nsiah, Immediate-Past Inspector General of Police (IGP) to probe circumstances that led to the disaster and find solutions to avert recurrence.

The Committee, which has two weeks to submit its report, is to investigate the cause of the fire, assess the extent of damage, examine the implications and make recommendations for action and future guidance.

Other members of the Committee are Commander Moses Beick of the Ministry of Harbours and Railways, Mr William Mensah of the GNFS and Mr H. A. L. Mbeah from the National Security.

The rest are Dr M. Apiagyei-Gyamfi, Director of Petroleum; Commodore Mathew Quarshie of the Ghana Navy and Mr Ato Ewusie Wilson, who is member/secretary.

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