The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovations (MESTI) has ordered the stoppage of the construction of a new fuel station being undertaken by AI Energy in Sekondi.
The new station is bounded by the Central Pentecost Church at Zongo junction, near Gyandu Park in the west, the Takoradi-Sekondi rail line in the north and the Central Prisons in the east; therefore, it posed a threat to public safety and the environment, the authorities noted.
The Ministry has also suspended Tropics Gas station and the Halifa Salia (WAPCO) fuel station from operating until they regularise their businesses.
The Deputy Minister of MESTI, Dr. Alfred Sugri Tia, gave the order last Wednesday when he was accompanied by the Deputy Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA), Mr John Puamang, the Western Regional Director of EPA, Yaw Sarfo- Afriyie on a tour to Sekondi, as part of a countrywide monitoring exercise to ensure that fuel and gas stations complied with EPA safety standards and other statutory regulations.
“The permit has been revoked; the project is near a church with a lot of people worshipping in there and also close to a prison yard and in case of any challenge we will have a difficulty. We are interested in growing businesses but at the same time, we can’t risk the lives of the public and that of the environment,” the Deputy Minster stressed.
At the Tropics Gas Station, at the Cocoa Product Industrial Area, Dr. Tia ordered the temporary suspension of the licence of the company until the fitters and welders in the area had totally being evacuated from the station. Meanwhile, officials from the ministry and the EPA, posted another stop work notice on Tropical Gas operations.
“From 2011, we have been making serious efforts to evacuate the artisans but, it had not been easy. I am happy that with the support of the EPA, we are ensuring that they move from here. It is even good for us. Some of them have already left,” the Manager of Tropic Gas, Mr. Temeng Amoako said.
Commenting, Dr. Tia said the permit would be restored if the environment was right for business, especially as the welders used naked flame in their work adding that, “ once you have done that, the EPA would support your business”.
At the Goil Fuel Station at Edzii (Kwame Nkrumah Roundabout), Mr. Puamang and the Chief Programme Officer at the EPA, Mr. William Acquah – Hayford, noted that, there were cracks at the tank farm while unauthorised were vehicles parked there.
Again, whiles were commercial activities by drivers and traders on the adjoining Kwesimintsim-Apemanim highway were ongoing, the station of Sekondi serving as a thorough fare. The observation or monitoring wells were not being checked everyday to avoid leakages from the tank farm.
Mr. Puamang also told the manager, Madam Louisa Edzii-Awayevu that the station would be given a letter for her to put strict measures and standard procedures in place “as to from we avoid what happened at Circle in Accra”.
“We will put it back to you because you have a responsibility to bring the situation here under control. Indeed, we need to work together within the legal frame- work. It’s a challenge especially as the place is used as a thorough fare. A major risk is the tank farm,” he said.
Madam Edzzi-Awayevu agre-ed with the concerns raised by the team and explained that, the 50 year-old station had been jammed by bus station nearby, with increasing commercial and trading activities thereby posing a challenge to management.
She, however, assured that the station was ready to work with the EPA, the assembly and the police to ensure sanity and high standards at the Goil station.
Meanwhile, at the Halifa Salia fuel station, where a ‘stop work’ had been posted, the minster and his team noted that, the owner had no permit at all and could also not declare who supplied the product.
“The station had no environmental permit, no fencing, short vent pipes, no fire permit and no insurance. Since we served them notices, they have been trying to increase the height of the vent pipes and also started the fence wall,” Mr. Sarfo- Afriyie said.
Dr. Tia said, “Right now they have no permit and so we have stopped them from operating. We will continue with the investigations and when we are satisfied with the security arrangements here, we will come back. Indeed, we are not satisfied. It’s not enough to put up a wall and start selling fuel”.
The team had ordered SHELLICO Gas to build a fence wall and also an entrance and exit points to promote safety at the Bakado area and also check the work of welders using naked flames at the frontage.
Later, in an interview with journalists, he said, the tour had been useful as it had helped in re-enforcing the monitoring activities of the ministry and EPA, and also enforcing the environmental laws of the industry to ensure the public safety and the environmental standards.
“We have revoked the permit of the AI project because of its closeness to the church and the prisons yard. There is also no extra land. We will continue monitoring the industry and operators and deal with those who are not complying with the regulations and rules,” he said.
From Clement Adzei Boye, Sekondi