Talk about Gas and filing stations in this country and the first thing likely to come to mind is the June 3 twin disaster which claimed over 150 lives. But from all indications, it seems these nerve-wracking
incidents is never enough and a bother to authorities.
Most fuel stations in our country these days run restaurant and bar at the same premises. Because of the highly inflammable nature of petrol and diesel, it’s clear it is not advisable to have fire near such places but what do we see? That is the more reason why government must put measures in place to stop these operations to avoid future fire out breaks but this seems to be the current trend taking over our Fuel stations.
In times past, fuel stations or filling stations were known for the purpose of selling fuel only and as the days and time passes by, the selling of oil and break fluid was introduced. Gradually, Marts which is a mini supermarket became part of it with cosmetic and pharmaceutical shops being the latest to be introduced.
But now, one of which is becoming rampant but very dangerous is the operation of restaurant and bars which have kebabs and guinea fowl roasters right in front of the premises.
Hazardous risk I put it!
Should the fuel tank of a customers car leak or fuel tankers at the premise of the fuel station leak, it can easily and only catch fire from these kebab sellers fire since that is exposed to the air.
And more so, because the kitchen of the restaurant is on the same grounds with the fuel station, should the kitchen accidentally catch fire it will be a serious disaster again for Ghana just like what happened in Dome last year.
In this story, the very one that caught my eyes is the springing up and opening of KFC and and other food joints which is currently taking over our Fuel stations these days. In some of the western lands, it’s common to see a filling station which has part being operated as a shopping center that sells everything including food prepared right there at the premises.
We can’t copy or practice some of these things here since measures they put in place to regulate such operations are more stringent and differs from what we have here.
But from the lay man’s point of view, who are the regulatory bodies mandated to check this?
They include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST).
The NPA’s regulation specificate that gas and fuel stations should be sited at a minimum of 30.8 metres or 100 feet away from residential areas and 500 feet from public institutions like schools, churches, hospitals, public library etc. But the practice on the ground speaks otherwise as the regulations are being floated over at high dispensation.
It is hard to see the taskforce or supervisors go round to check if there is no leakages on fuel tankers and pumps. Nobody supervises that here in our country until the harm is caused. And this clearly shows that until something happens no one cares.
So are authorities waiting for a disaster to occur before they talk and act about it?
To the best of our knowledge it’s not advisable to have fire near combustible items.
So the question is, who gave them the permit? how were they even granted the permit to start operation in the first place? And to ask does the law allows that? If it does under which circumstance or condition should that be?
These are all questions begging for answers and until we find them, we’re sitting on a time bomb waiting to explode.
By: Shiela Obaapa Naana Frimpomaa