Flammable Safety Breaches
In the past few years we have encountered life-snuffing tragedies – all of them related to poor safety management practices.
The latest in the series is what has prompted this subject; the number of casualties which is still in a flux as victims who suffered various degrees of burns are in critical conditions in hospitals in Accra.
At the time of composing this commentary, the death toll stood at seven. The subject of safety management continues to be ignored by both the relevant authorities and the citizenry to the detriment of us all.
Taking things for granted is our stock-in-trade. It is beyond our ken why this unacceptable and dangerous practice is allowed in our society even when the repercussions are deadly.
Even before the report of the investigation which would definitely be conducted by the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) is out, the Public Relations Officer of the Service has hinted about an obvious breach of safety standards.
If the fallouts from bad governance take time to manifest, not so in the petroleum industry where it is instant – the consequences, of course, being deadly as evident from yesterday's incident.
Basic safety standards underpin the various management segments of petroleum products. We can bet that in many cases, these are largely not adhered to because state agents paid to ensure that these are carried out shirk their responsibilities with reckless abandon.
If indeed such irresponsibility is real and the consequences deadly as we have observed without a dose of doubt, then the future is bleak unless a major audit of the strings of petroleum product vending outlets across the country, especially in built-up areas of urban areas is carried out.
It is regrettable that no sooner have victims of such infernos been buried or discharged from infirmaries than the subject of auditing is shelved to gather dust.
We recall the Circle disaster, unrivalled in Ghana's disaster history and what followed. Politicians at the helm and their counterparts from the other side of the divide took turns to commiserate with the families of victims. The politicians running the country as usual promised support which trickled in and stopped as soon as it started. As for the promises to ensure that the right things are done to forestall future recurrence, they were not in short supply. In the end nothing happened.
Here we are again, de ja vu, lamenting after another killer gas explosion. We are constrained to ask whether there are petrol filling stations which were closed down because of the danger they pose to the public which have not been reopened because the owners know politicians in government or were themselves appointees?
At Mile 7, following the Circle disaster, a petroleum filling station was ordered shut during an ostensible auditing of such facilities. After a while the owner, a politician from the then ruling NDC party maneuvered to reverse the order and now business has resumed.
In the light of the foregone and the fact that the breaches in the area of construction of such sites dealing in inflammable stuff persists, we demand that immediate auditing of these be undertaken with a view to taking the necessary action regardless of whose ox is gored.