Without fear or favour, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) must act to bring to an end the unwarranted and frequent liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) explosions in the country.
Records show that from 2007 to date, the country has recorded over 110 deaths and 500 injuries from gas explosions under differing circumstances. Within the last three years the country has experienced 8 gas explosions, with Accra recording 7 of such unfortunate incidents.
And in all these situations lives were lost and large scale injuries recorded. Aside the fatalities and injuries are economic and social cost running into million dollars for every incident that occurred.
The frequency and the impacts of the explosions are a clear manifestation of the absence of rigorous standards and regulations associated with LPG handling, within the Ghanaian downstream petroleum sector.
It is therefore necessary for the regulatory bodies within the sector to move beyond the rhetoric to save this avoidable and embarrassing phenomenon.
Any time a gas explosion has occurred, the National Petroleum Authority together with its allied agencies are quick to come out with reports on the cause of the incident, and proceed further to assure Ghanaians of making the explosions are thing of the past.
However, one promise begets one avoidable explosion. The Atomic Junction gas explosion that has taken at least 7 lives and injuring over 130 persons could have been avoided if we had acted on the recommendations of previous explosions, and beyond the promises.
It is for this reason that the Institute for Energy Security (IES) is calling on the NPA and related bodies to institute reforms in the handling of LPG in the country. It is imperative that the NPA, EPA, and allied agencies move plans that are collecting dust on “drawing-boards” to implementation on the ground. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.
The reforms must go beyond banning the filling of LPG bottles at retail sites, to include the appropriate siting of LPG retailing stations, consistent and effective monitoring of LPG sites, stringent regulatory and licensing regimes etc.
The IES wishes to appeal, while encouraging especially the NPA, not to tolerate any form of resistance and unnecessary interference likely to come from persons with parochial interests, in its quest to bring about the needed reforms.
We urge the general public to support the regulatory bodies in implementing the needed reforms for the sake of lives and properties lost, and persons injured in the current and past explosions.
Signed: RICHMOND ROCKSON