The National Petroleum Authority has been mandated to hire 200 auditors to ensure that safety standards are fully complied with at all gas stations in the country.
The auditors will move from station to station to ensure that safety equipment such as CO2, foam and others are all in place.
The Minister of Energy, Boakye Agyarko, told the media that the move was part of government’s bigger plan of enforcing the Cylinder Exchange Programme – as a means of curbing gas explosions and also increasing access to and use of LPG gas as a fuel of choice for domestic purposes.
“It is interesting to know that for the past six months we’ve been working on a new policy document to be approved by cabinet so it becomes the operating principle. We’ve extensively engaged stakeholders in the operation of this new policy,” he said.
He lamented that enforcement of the policy had come with some opposition from entities with parochial interests in the sector. He was however adamant that government is resolute in ensuring this policy comes into full effect.
“I must admit that we’ve received some resistance from some vested interests who see this as impacting negatively on their businesses,” he explained. “But, at the end of the day, what we ought to consider as a nation is the safety of our citizens over primary pecuniary interests. So, it is that we will bring to the fore, and make sure that the standards of care and safety around the handling of gas conforms to the best international practice,” he added.
Under the proposed Gas Cylinder Exchange Programme, users of LPG will bring their empty cylinders to a central collection point to be exchanged with filled cylinders after paying a minimal fee for the issuance of a cylinder. The idea is that Bulk Road Vehicles will now supply LPG stations at locations situated some distance from population centres to minimise the impact of accidents and explosions if they occur.
Boakye Agyarko said: “We have to come to the sensible and the logical position of having bottling plants outside population centres, well under technical and safety control so they rather do the filling and bring it to us in our homes”.
The minister was speaking at the inauguration of a nine-member board to steer the affairs of the Ghana Gas Company.
His comments come on the back of the recent gas explosion at Atomic Junction in Accra, which claimed the lives of 7 people and injured 132 others. It has been largely suggested that poor safety standards at the gas station was to blame for the explosion on Saturday.
“This explosion was one too many, and we need to bring them to a screeching halt. There are a lot of things that we are going to do through the enunciation of this new policy,” Boakye Agyarko said.
Cabinet is expected to meet on Thursday to discuss the new policy and pass it into law. The policy will enable the regulator, the National Petroleum Authority, to assume powers that enable it fully enforce safety laws and mete out punitive measures to defaulting gas dealers.
Source: Kennedy Aryeetey Tetteh | thebftonline.com | Ghana