From William Ofori Akwaboa, Atwima Nkoranza
In spite of the numerous concerns raise over the siting of fuel dispensing stations, popularly known in Ghana as filling stations, in residential areas, the menace, is continuing at an alarming rate in cities across the country.
It will be suicidal for any institution in this country to issue a certificate for construction of a fuel filling station in the midst of houses, 3Storey building and in a commercial place like this site.
The comic aspect of the situation on the ground is that, the under construction fuel filling station shall catch fire at any time, because there are about four different metal welding shops besides, and just opposite of it is another metal welder shop, and a cement store at the left side with about just 5 meters between the filling station and these shops.
The agitations continues in the minds of anyone who notice the site of the filling station about who issuance of the certificate of the dispensing station.
Residents of several communities in the Ashanti region, say it is about time the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), take immediate actions to avert any impending disaster and save lives.
Residents of Nkoranza, in the Atwima Kwanwoma District, a suburb of Kumasi, are battling with the owner of a filling station situated between a wall separating 4 plots of land, two each comprising a 3storey building and three mansions.
This paper’s interview with a police CID in the area, revealed that all effort to stop the owner of the under construction filling station from continued construction, have proved futile.
According to the Police CID personnel, who resides close to the under construction fuel filling station, no amount of words can stop this man from completing the project, because he has a permit from the EPA, as well as from the Atwima Kwanwoma District Assembly.
He was with the view that, barely a month ago, over two hundred Ghanaians lost their lives and several millions of properties also displaced in the central business area and Kwame Nkrumah Circle precisely, the national capital of Ghana, and it is time EPA, sit up to defend the poor Ghanaian from such ungodly projects.
According to the residents of Nkoranza, they are living in constant fear as the filling station, shall post a threat to their lives if completed.
They alleged that people in high places were behind the project and have circumvented the law to site the fuel station there.
Speaking to The Herald, Mr. Ankomah, a resident of Atwima Nkoranza, who spoke on behalf of the residents, said in the latter part of 2014, one of their communities elder, sold this particular plot of land to the developer.
According to him, the buyer demolished the wooden structure on the land and started the building of this particular filling station just by the road side of the Kumasi-Obuasi highway.
He said, in April 2015, the residents lodged a formal complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) objecting to the construction of the facility, but all to no avail, he stressed.
He stated emphatically that, the filling station cannot be opened for business if nothing was done about their well-fare, because they would never allow themselves to be subjected to various health hazards, as well as risks of losing their lives in case of fire, they contend that, if persuasion fails, residents of Nkoranza, will apply force to stop the owner from operating.
On the Kejetia-Obuasi Highway alone, four filling stations are located very close to fitting shops, houses and many eating places (chop bars).
A number of fuelling stations on the Atonsu Agogo-Asokwa stretch of the Kumasi Kontenase Highway, are sited in the middle of shopping centers and close to homes.
On the Bantema-Abrepo junction, as well as Sofo-line Hospital roads, filling stations are sited very close to houses, drinking spots, churches and Hospitals.
Even though there is a guideline that regulates the siting of such service Stations, violation of the regulations by fuel and LPG station owners exposes the public to danger.
Apart from explosions, other identified risks associated with the installation and operation of filling station in residential areas include, air pollution, threats to occupational and public health safety, and land degradation.