Business News of Monday, 7 January 2019
Source: Michael Creg Afful
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) users who patronise the services of T-Tekpor Gas Refilling Station at Afariwa Junction, in the Ashaiman Municipality, are unhappy about the decision by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to close down the station.
The station has existed in the area for more than ten years and has been serving hundreds of LPG users including the First Battalion of Infantry (1BN), Michel camp, Tema International School (TIS), Tema Ridge School, as well as taxi drivers whose vehicles run on the fuel and operate within that industrial enclave.
The LPG users said they could not fathom why the NPA would take such a decision to close a facility that has, additionally, provided jobs for about 25 people.
NPA’s decision to close down the station follows a recommendation by a Multi Stakeholders’ Committee (MSC), after the Assembly member for the area, Charles Kissi, petitioned the Ministry of Energy that the facility posed danger to two adjoining schools-Tema International School and Tema Ridge School.
The petition pointed out that in the event of explosion, the impact would be sever due to the environment in which the facility has been sited.
When this reporter this visited the area on Wednesday, January 2, 2019, management of the facility had placed a notice in front of the facility to announce to its numerous customers that it was undergoing maintenance work hence the shutdown.
The notice reads: “Dear customers, we are currently undergoing a short maintenance in order to serve you better. We are sorry for any inconveniences. Thanks for your understanding.”
Several customers who had gone to buy LPG upon seeing the notice, went elsewhere to buy the product. Others, however, drew closer to the facility to be sure of the news they had heard about the closure of the facility, consequently, the mild notice.
“I am surprised that NPA has asked the station to close down. This station was here long before these schools and other projects around started. Though T-Tekpor Gas Filling Station is the third company to operate the facility, we haven’t recorded any incident of explosion all these years,” an angry customer stated.
The supervisor at the facility, Ebenezer Benifo Dacosta, took the reporter around the facility to see the level of safety measures that had been placed to deal with any eventualities.
The facility, among other vital safety gadgets, has two water hydrants, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, ball type extinguishers that could explode and quench fire in case of electric spark and emergency fire switches.
Although the facility shares a wall with the football field of both schools, the administration blocks and the classrooms are about 300 metres away from the gas refilling station.
The staff of the facility had also been trained to prevent and fight fire.
When contacted, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NPA, Hassan Tampuli, said the Authority only acted on the recommendations of the Multi Stakeholders’ Committee which was put together to look into the petition submitted to the Energy Ministry.
He added: “As a regulator, our interest is not to collapse businesses but to ensure that the right things are done.”
A member of the Multi Stakeholders’ Committee (MSC), who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity, admitted that the owner had invested so much in putting safety measures in place at the station.
However, William Hayfron-Acquah, who is the Chief Programme Officer at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said the Committee recommended the closure of the facility due to huge population of the two schools.
“Yes, the man has constructed two water hydrants with adequate water and you know water alone cannot be used in fighting fire. The man has invested a lot of money and also fortified the place but, you know, gas can go as far as 250 metres. Again, the station shares boundary with the schools and so if something happens in the night, you can imagine…only God knows the number of casualties that will occur. So, we looked at the safety of the school children and after weighing the facts, we came to the conclusion that the gas filling station shouldn’t be there. We have to prevent what happened at the Trade Fair and Atomic Junction,” he explained.
When asked whether the Committee recommended that the NPA should compensate the owner, since he was going to lose his business, Mr Hayfron responded in the negative.
He, however, advised T-Tekpor Gas Filling Station to contact the Ministry of Energy and seek for compensation, since he is going to be out of business, after the closure of his source of livelihood.