Stop ‘Rambo style’ demolition of fuel stations — OMCs
A new fuel station demolished at Mile 7 in Accra
The Association of Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) has slammed what it termed “Rambo style” demolition of fuel filling stations by state officials in some parts of Accra.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the AOMCs, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Duah defended the affected filling stations as having been issued licences by the appropriate regulatory authorities to operate.
At a news conference in Accra at the weekend he said the closure of fuel filling stations had the innate result of culminating in “chaos and anarchy” in the society and inflaming passion among the citizenry and, thereby, create disaffection for OMCs and Liquefied Gas Marketers (LPGMs).
The Minister of Environment, Science and Innovation (MESTI), Mr Mahama Ayariga, last week led a team to demolish some filling stations perceived to be on watercourses or operating without licence but Mr Agyemang-Duah noted that “OMCs/LPGMs are neither monsters nor criminals but are Ghanaians making a living by legally investing in the petroleum industry.” According to the industry co-ordinator, “the blame game at this stage of our national life rather exacerbates the already precarious situation.”
He was of the view that the situation needed a “deep-seated thought, a thorough, unbiased and unfettered investigations to identify the root causes while consolidating or improving the existing industry standards for public safety and assurance.
Walking journalists through the processes leading to the grant of licence for the running of a fuel filling station, Mr Agyemang-Duah said agencies such as the Town and Country Planning, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and the NPA played various roles in the licensing regime and for that reason, it was impossible for any filling station to operate without licence. He nonetheless indicated the OMCs’ support for the government to ensure safety measures were adhered to by OMCs.
Highlighting new measures being implemented by OMCs to protect life and property, Mr Agyemang-Duah reminded the general public that petroleum retail outlets were restricted areas and for that reason, any person who did not have any business there should not venture nearing them.
“No one should smoke or use smoking materials in the hazardous area around the dispenser; the engine of the vehicle to be filled should be switched off, desist from making the retail outlets a parking lot and an emergency shelter and consumers should observe all safety signs at retail outlets,” Mr Agyemang-Duah said. The industry co-ordinator disclosed that the AOMCs had a committee on safety and health to monitor the activities of its members and was, therefore, of the view that there was no need for the government to engage an auditor to begin nationwide audit of all filling stations.
Siting of retail outlets
Tackling concerns about the siting of retail outlets in residential areas, Mr Agyemang-Duah said the industry had been in existence in the country for more than 50 years and that most filling stations were in existence before residential facilities sprang up around them. Aside from that, he explained that retail outlets were sited after members had met regulatory and other requirements. He declined to comment on the probable cause of the fire outbreak at Circle on June 3 but advised Ghanaians to desist from making statements on issues they knew little or nothing about.
“Such flammable utterances, innuendos and castigations have the tendency to malign and destroy the OMCs/LPGMs who have invested in these service stations and have been rendering very meaningful services to the country at large for more than 50 years,” Mr Agyemang-Duah pointed out.
Asked if the AOMCs welcomed moves by the government to fully deregulate the downstream petroleum industry, Mr Duah-Agyemang answered in the affirmative. He extended the association’s condolences to the bereaved families and said its members would in due course announce a package for the flood fire victims.