Fire ravages Tema Medical Stores

??????????What allegedly started as a harm-less burning of rubbish by a staff of the Central Medical Stores of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), ended up razing down the entire premises of the facility yesterday.

Drugs and medical equipments estimated to cost billions of Ghana Cedis under storage for nationwide distribution to health facilities, were lost in the fire.

But, the Minister of Health, Dr. Kweku Agyeman Mensah says, “There is no need for the citizenry to panic, because all the regions have adequate stockpile of medicine in their temporary warehouses to last between two and three months, as the ministry makes an alternative arrangement.”

He said the ministry was awaiting a report from the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) who have already started an investigation into the fire outbreak to determine the exact cause, and the total cost of damage which would inform the way forward, adding that “There is no cause for the alarm.”

At about 10:20 a.m. when The Ghanaian Times arrived at the scene, personnel of the GNFS were on hand trying to fight the fire which started from one of the warehouses, with police personnel standing by to maintain law and order in the area.

The staff were busy trying to salvage some drugs and equipments in the various warehouses to prevent them from being burnt, as the fire was fast spreading due to the combustible nature of the materials and the strong winds.

Sources from the GNFS said fire hydrants around the Central Medical Stores were all sealed, while fire extinguishers were unserviceable which posed a major challenge to fighting the fire.

The Chief Fire Officer, Dr. Albert Brown Gaisie, said his outfit received a distress call at about 9:55 a.m. and 12 fire tenders belonging to the GNFS, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), the Ghana Army and the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) were immediately dispatched to fight the fire with the help of two other trucks.

He said the Fire Service personnel had been very impressive as they mobilised the necessary equipments and personnel in the exercise, but blamed their delay in completely extinguishing the fire on the unfavourable wind which was fueling the fire.

He disclosed that the “housekeeping” as far as safety was concerned on the compound of the Central Medical Stores was not good enough, but said after the investigations, his outfit would know the next line of action.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Director in Charge of Transport at the Central Medical Stores, Mr. Ebo Hammond, told the media that the nation would not be affected immediately by the loss at the facility, however, in the medium and long terms, it might have an adverse effect on health care.

He said all the drugs had been burnt by the fire, and those which were not even burnt might not be good for human consumption because of the excessive heat and smoke that engulfed the place.

In a related development, members of the public had the opportunity to appreciate the dangers associated with being a Fire Service personnel, when they were called in to help salvage some of the electrical equipments and drugs at the stores.

Some complained of the heat from the inferno even though they were about a hundred metres from the fire, while the Fire Service personnel were a few inches from the fire.

While some members of the public appreciated their work, others tried to verbally assault them, as in their opinion, they had not been swift in fighting the fire.

Personnel from the Ghana Navy were also at the scene to control the crowd, and to maintain law and order.

As at 5:30 p.m., the fire was still ravaging.

From Dzifa Tetteh, Tema

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