The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) has shut down 21 Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) stations across the country for failing to meet various safety standards following inspections on Thursday, 12 October.
CEO of the NPA, Alhassan Tampuli said on Friday, 13 October that: “Yesterday our inspection and monitoring team closed down 21 stations across the country, now that is just the number of stations that they monitored and today they will continue and hopefully continue next week”.
The clampdown on gas and fuel stations dovetailed into directives given to such effect by President Nana Akufo-Addo following a Cabinet meeting that same day.
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The closure of the LPG stations follows a gas explosion at Atomic Junction near Madina in Accra last week Saturday which killed seven people and injured 132 others.
Also, President Akufo-Addo has said the Cylinder Recirculation Module proposed by the NPA aimed at ensuring that LPG posts are cited away from densely populated areas and commercial centres, must immediately come into force as part of measures to sanitise the industry and avert disastrous explosions as the one that occurred at Atomic Junction.
“At the Cabinet meeting of 12th October 2017, the President of the Republic, on the advice of Cabinet, directed that henceforth the Cylinder Recirculation Model of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) distribution be implemented. This model means that LPG Bottling Plants will be sited away from congested commercial and population centres and will procure, brand, maintain and fill empty cylinders to be distributed to consumers and households through retail outlets. Low risk stations will be designated for the supply of gas to vehicles. This whole exercise must be completed within one year,” Minister of Information Mustapha Hamid said in a statement.
The programme is something the Association of Gas Tanker Drivers has being against.
The association recently threatened a nationwide strike if the programme was implemented.
Chairman of the Association, Safiu Mohammed, told journalists at a press conference that: “About 7,000 Ghanaians workers in the LPG chain will have to be laid off, aggravating the already high unemployment situation in the country. The policy itself is discriminatory.”
He added that: “We believe the government is not being told the truth. The CRM will be a complete on the economy as the operators will repatriate all their earnings in foreign currency. Sadly, in a job Ghanaians are already doing well, we, therefore, call for its complete withdrawal.”
Apart from the cylinder recirculation programme, the President has also ordered the “immediate cessation, until further notice, of all construction of facilities intended for use as gas or petroleum retail stations.”
Additionally, the president has directed the shutdown of all high-risk Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) stations across the country.
Below is a press statement issued by Information Minister Mustapha Hamid following the meeting:
NEW GOVERNMENT REGULATORY MEASURES, FOLLOWING GAS EXPLOSION AT ATOMIC JUNCTION
On the evening of 7th October 2017, the nation was shaken by a horrible gas explosion at Atomic Junction in Accra, which led to the loss of seven lives, 132 injuries and the destruction of valuable property. In the past three years, we have been subjected to eight such incidents of explosions. This latest incident was one too many, which we must take all necessary steps to bring to an end.
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.
At the Cabinet meeting of 12th October 2017, the President of the Republic, on the advice of Cabinet, directed that henceforth the Cylinder Recirculation Model of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) distribution be implemented. This model means that LPG Bottling Plants will be sited away from congested commercial and population centres and will procure, brand, maintain and fill empty cylinders to be distributed to consumers and households through retail outlets. Low risk stations will be designated for the supply of gas to vehicles. This whole exercise must be completed within one year.
In the interim, the President has directed that the following steps be taken to give comfort to and ensure the safety of our citizens:
1. immediate inspection of all gas stations and the vigorous enforcement of existing regulations by the National Petroleum Authority;
2. review of the current licensing regime to ensure that only those with demonstrable capacity and competence engage in the LPG distribution business;
3. 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;
4. 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;
5. 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;
6. 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;
7. 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;
8. 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;
9. immediate cessation, until further notice, of all construction of facilities, intended for use as gas or petroleum retail stations.
The safety of citizens is the paramount objective of Government, and the President will take all necessary steps to ensure that citizens are safe.
Hon. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid
Minister for Information