President Akufo Addo has directed the “immediate cessation, until further notice, of all construction of facilities intended for use as gas or petroleum retail stations.”
The directive, one of many interim decisions arrived at during a Cabinet meeting of October 12, follows the October 7 deadly gas explosion at Atomic Junction in Accra, which killed seven people and injured over 130 others.
A statement issued by Information Minister Mustapha Hamid, said “The safety of citizens is the paramount objective of Government, and the President will take all necessary steps to ensure that citizens are safe.”
The President also directed the implementation within one year, of the Cylinder Recirculation Model of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) distribution, which sites LPG Bottling Plants away from congested commercial and population centers to procure, brand, maintain and fill empty cylinders to be distributed to consumers and households through retail outlets.
The Statement said that low risk stations would be designated for the supply of gas to vehicles, explaining that “The importance of gas, and its use in our national economy, requires that we must develop and enforce regulations and practices, and deploy technology to ensure the safe use of gas and safety of our citizens.”
Other actions directed by the President include:
- immediate inspection of all gas stations and the vigorous enforcement of existing regulations by the National Petroleum Authority;
- review of the current licensing regime to ensure that only those with demonstrable capacity and competence engage in the LPG distribution business;
- institution of mandatory training and certification of the staff of Regulators, Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and LPG Marketing Companies to ensure the safe handling of LPG;
- review the safety protocols along the entire value chain through the combined efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), National Fire Service (NFS), Town and Country Planning Department of the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Factories Inspectorate Department of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations;
- deployment of a task force, within 30 days, to assess the risk that our current LPG infrastructure poses in terms of public health and safety. High risk stations will be immediately closed down, in accordance with relevant law and without regard to any political or special interests. Low risk stations will be designated for the supply of gas for vehicles with improved safety standards;
- the immediate incorporation of standards and guidelines developed by Ghana Standards Authority on the handling, storage and distribution of LPG and other petroleum products as technical regulations to strengthen the enforcement regime;
- the recruitment by NPA of 200 safety auditors to join the staff of the Factories Inspectorate Department of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations to check regularly on all stations to ensure full compliance with safety standards and practices;
- expedition of action by the Fire Service and the Police Service of on-going investigations. Any operator or regulatory official, against whom any act of criminal negligence is established, will face the full rigors of the law;
- immediate cessation, until further notice, of all construction of facilities intended for use as gas or petroleum retail stations.