As Ghanaians commemorate the one year anniversary of the tragic fire and flood disasters that occurred on June 3 2015, we have been asking the National Petroleum Authority about steps they have taken to properly regulate the location of filling stations in the country.
Many have blamed the location of the filling station in the densely populated Kwame Nkrumah circle as the major reason why 150 people lost their live in the fire disaster on June 3. One year on, what has changed in the NPA’s policy on the granting of permits to filling stations.
The NPA says it has taken concrete steps to avert a recurrence of June 3 by revising its criteria for the location and operation of filling stations across the country.
In an interview with Pulse.com.gh the Head of Communications of the NPA, Yaro Kasambata, said the NPA’s policy and criteria for issuing permits for the situation of filling stations has since been drastically revised to minimize the recurrence of the oil spill that caused the fire on the fateful day.
According to him, the NPA has undertaken a comprehensive mapping exercise that has helped in the classification of geographical areas across the country according to population density. This he says now helps in the proper allocation of places for filling stations.
Under this method therefore, filling station will not be granted permits to operate in ‘red zones’ or densely populated locations.
“ The June 3 disaster was an eye-opener for all of us. But to be fair, the NPA was already in the process of redefining our policy on how permits are granted to filling stations.”
Initially, the applicant goes to the Assembly for a permit, then to the Fire service, and then finally to the NPA.
However, Yaro Kasambata revealed the process has been totally reversed where the applicant starts from the NPA and ends up at the assembly.
“ We have demarcated the whole country into population zones, labelling them according to the colours red, amber and green. Red representing densely populated, amber being relatively dense populated and green been not densely populated.”
Yaro said permits are not granted for operation of filling stations in densely populated locations.
When quizzed on a particular incident of a filling station situated by a hotel at Mile 7 in a Accra, Yaro conceded that the NPA had gotten numerous complaints from customers on the location of that particular filling station and has been investigating the issue.
“Yes. That case has come to our attention, and we are investigating the issue.”
When he was questioned on the fact that the filling station is currently in operations, the Head of Communications of the NPA said swifts actions will be taken to address the issue.
“I am unable to say why they are currently operational and as to whether the have the permit to or not. I will have to check to be categorically sure. However, I know they were seeking permission from the assembly as well. As I said we will have to investigate to find out the circumstance under which they are operating.”
This station became the talk of the nation on June 8 2015, just five days after the flood and fire disasters which killed so many.
The station was demolished shortly after irate residents of the area attacked it. However, checks by Pulse.com.gh, seven months on, revealed that the station had been reconstructed.
Some of the residents who could not explain exactly why the station is being reconstructed told me there is nothing they can do about it.
“Well you can see for yourself. We have complained severally and now we don’t know what to do so we are here watching,” a gentleman who sells close to the station told pulse.com.gh's Betty Kankam-Boadu.
Another resident, Larmi, 72, who has been living in his house 50 meters away from the filing station since 1982, old man told Betty “when it (referring to the filling station) catches fire, we will all be in trouble.”
The building as we have found out belongs to the wife of the Member of Parliament for Ayawaso East, Nasir Mohammed Toure.