Discussants at a day’s Media interaction have called on Oil Marketing Companies to undertake thorough underground works before siting their facilities especially where the fuel filling stations were close to residential areas.
The thorough works, they said should include; painstaking consultations with relevant organisations such as; the Ghana National Fire Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Land Use and Special Planning Authority (Formerly Town and Country Planning) and National Petroleum Authority among other stakeholders.
The Media interaction formed part of the week-long celebration of the Association of Oil Marketing Companies (AOMCs) on the theme: “Petroleum Safety, It is your right.”
The discussants who were made up of officials from the Land Use and Special Planning Authority, Ghana National Fire Service, Environmental Protection Agency, National Petroleum Authority among others answered questions from the Moderator- Kofi Capito, Chief Executive Officer of Consumer Watch and the Media.
The Media personnel also asked pertinent questions ranging from the siting of fuel filling stations, their safety measures and potential dangers to residents.
Mr Paa Kwesi Adutwum, an Official of the Ghana National Fire Service, who was answering questions on causes of recent outbreaks at fuel filling stations in some parts of the country attributed them to lack of safety training for drivers of the vehicles.
He explained that in many cases, the explosions were not caused by the filling station facilities or attendants, but the drivers who were discharging the gas or other explosives.
“With a slight noise, the drivers, who are mostly not well trained take to their heels leaving their machines to drag on and create sparks that result into explosions.”
Mr Adutwum said the best way to tackle the explosions was to provide adequate training programmes for tanker drivers to avert further future explosions.
He gave the assurance that the GNFS would continue to play their roles effectively and would be readily available to help any station that was discharging its petroleum products, any day, anywhere.
Mr William Hayford-Acquah, Chief Environmental Officer of the Environmental Protection Agency said under the 1999 environmental assessment impact regulation, it was an offence to operate a fuel filling station without their permit.
As a result, he said his outfit would continue to monitor and ensure that AOMcs adhered to the rules and regulations of their assessment regime to ensure the safety of all.
Mrs Linda Amofa, an Official of Land Use and Special Planning Authority said urbanization had created mixed arrangements for both residential and commercial accommodations.
She said at areas that were along highways and highly populated areas, it was acceptable for both commercial activities to be mixed up with residential areas although some residential areas were still restricted for that purpose.
Mr Kwaku Agyeman Duah, Industry Coordinator of the AOMCs explained that the media interaction was meant to create a platform for people to know the intricacies involved in the siting of filling stations.
He said such a platform was also necessary to erase some erroneous impressions that had surrounded the establishments of fuel filling stations in the country.
As part of the week celebrations, members of the AOMCs and the media would also visit some facilities in the Tema industrial enclave.