The Ghana Science Association in responding to the fire disaster in Accra on Wednesday 3rd June, 2015, has called for safety measures at fuel stations in Ghana. In a press statement signed by the President, Dr. Peter Twumasi the association made far-reaching recommendations for policy makers and the government. The press conference was held at the College of Science in Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi.
In response to the disaster that claimed many lives, the association observed that the disaster was as a result of human error arising from sheer negligence and the repugnant Ghanaian habit of total disregard for safety precautions. The statement went on to explain that in homes, schools and communities everyone broke the natural and human laws on which our very survival was based.
“Today Ghana has many fuel stations scattered within our communities without regard to the safety of operators, consumers and the general public”. Citing Kumasi as a clear example, the statement pointed out that from Asafo to Ejisu there were about eighteen fuel stations which were all located close to houses and businesses.
The Association therefore believes that the time has come for Ghana to make use of her experts to provide a framework of safety measures aimed at providing protection for life and property and to ensure total adherence of the populace to these and established regulations,.
Dr. Peter Twumasi, briefing the media, said both liquid and gas stations should be sited 500 meters away from residential or industrial enclaves. Again, the establishment of restaurants, shopping centres, offices, rest stops or any other commercial activity at the fuel stations must be banned. The GSA explained that fuel was highly inflammable and therefore any activity likely to induce heat or sparks could trigger fire at these stations and cause serious damage to life and property.
According to the scientists, siting fuel stations in waterlogged environments must be avoided because in such places fuel tanks tended to rust or decay very fast. Floods in such areas would bring leaked fuel to the surface and cause fire outbreaks.
They also used the occasion to advise the public to purchase and transport inflammable petroleum products with certified plastic and metal containers because some containers are known to react or ignite in contact with some fuel products. Ghanaians were also charged to desist from keeping fossil fuel products in their homes.
The GSA called for periodic assessments of underground fuel tanks and pumping machines at fuel stations by state regulatory authorities including the Environmental Protection Authority and the National Petroleum Authority, and to involve independent research institutions and researchers in such assessments.
Dr. Leonard Amekudzi, a climate scientist, in an exclusive interview hinted that scientists always published their research. He, however, blamed the low level of scientific journalism as accounting for the low publicity of their works. He therefore used the occasion to invite the media to collaborate with researchers in carrying out research dissemination activities.
Dr. Amekudzi was quick to add that with the help of the management of the University and its appropriate offices, relevant policy makers and stakeholders would definitely get copies of their recommendations.
He remarked that a lot of work had been done by his colleagues and himself. He noted that 2 years ago, he presented his findings on the dangers of floods in lowland areas with Accra being a case study. His study revealed that 25% of the inhabitants were living in flood prone areas and 50% were living in areas known as river basins and tributaries of Densu and recommended good drainage systems.
Dr. Leonard Amekudzi stated that between June and July such floods were to be expected. He therefore called on all citizens to abide by city planning regulations in order to safeguard the environment and to reduce future occurrences of such disasters.