The people living close to these gas stations have expressed fears about the possible explosion and the resultant loss of lives.
The recent gas explosion that claimed two lives at a gas station near the Wesley Grammar School junction at Dansoman in Accra, has heightened the fears of the residents.
The National Petroleum Authority’s regulations stipulate that gas should be sited at a minimum of 30.8 metres or 100 feet from residential areas but the situation on the ground is different.
The Ghanaian Times sampled the views of residents living close to gas filling stations across the country.
Most of these residents were of the view that the siting of the gas stations close to their houses posed danger to their health whiles others believed that it offered them the opportunity to get gas quickly due to their proximity.
Lawrence Markwei reports in Accra that some communities where gas stations have been sited near offices and residential apartments were Adabraka, near the Globe Cinema, Tesano, opposite the Police Depot, La, near the cemetery, and Awudome Eastates, near the cemetery.
Expressing his concern about the issue, Ishmael Quaison, a mechanic near the filling station located at Tesano said both businesses had co-existed on that plot land for several years since the advent of gas stations in the 90s.
He said he had been a mechanic in the area for over 15 years but had not witnessed any incident which could cause any fear and panic.
Mr. Quanson, however, admitted that with the conception of gas being a dangerous commodity, the fears lingered around the psyche of people in the area, especially, those who have with houses close to the station.
Margaret Naa Ayittey, a resident of Adabraka Freetown, where a gas station is located, said though it had been around for years without any mishap, the Dansoman explosion had amplified the real danger gas stations posed in residential areas.
She said since her infancy, she had harboured a phobia for gas usage since an explosion at their family house resulted in the untimely of two relatives in 2006.
Madam Ayittey said with a hospital located near where the gas station was sited, it was her prayers that safety measures were enforced to avoid any casualty.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has served notice to operators of gas and fuel service stations of embarking on a nationwide monitoring exercise that would lead to either closing down or prosecuting owners of gas stations operating without permit.
A statement by its Public Affairs Department said it was an offence under Regulation 1(1) and 29 of the Environmental Assessment Regulation 1999 (L.I. 1652) to operate an LPG and fuel stations without permit from EPA.
From Kumasi, Kingsley E. Hope reports that residents of Kwadaso are unhappy about the siting of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) station close to houses as they pose posing danger to their health.
There have been growing public concerns particularly over the siting of LPG filling stations in residential areas citing Kwadaso where three gas filling stations are sited very close to residential houses.
Residents who spoke to The Ghanaian Times on Wednesday, expressed fear about the loss of lives should there be any gas explosion since the facilities are sited close to their houses.
Referring to one of such facilities situated on the shoulders of the Edwenase road, Emmanuel Amankwa, a resident and worker in the area said: “I personally cannot tell why anybody would give this gas station permit to operate. It is just too close to us and all of us are at risk should anything go wrong there one day”.
For her part, Ms. Adelaide Amoabeng, a seamstress, with her shop close to a gas station on the Kwadaso-Atwima Techiman stretch said: “This station has not been here for long. We protested during the initial stages of its construction but our cries were not heard and now it is here. Though nothing bad has since happened, I have the feeling that I am living with danger and that makes me feel bad”.
The dangers of gas tanker explosions and their fatality rate are very real to most residents, yet, many of them are adamant to quit.
Mr. Charles Binney, a house owner at Kwadaso Ehwimase said: “I built my house here before this station was opened. My land documents show that this place is a residential area and not an industrial area. So I do not understand why the authorities are entertaining the gas station in a residential area”.
He urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other relevant bodies not to give permit for any such structure to be sited in a residential area.
Other residents near the Kumasi Academy Secondary School at Asokore Mampong also revealed that the atmosphere became unbearable anytime the gas station was flushing out gas from its system as they found it difficult breathing.
The Ashanti Regional Director of the EPA, Isaac Osei, speaking on the matter, said steps were being taken at the national level to get rid of all unauthorised gas stations countrywide and also to prevent further siting of such facilities at residential areas.
“It has become a national issue which the EPA is tackling. Plans are being made to flush out unauthorised gas stations from the system,” he said.
Cliff Ekuful writes from Wa that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken steps to ensure that petrol and gas filling stations operating within and around the Wa Municipality of the Upper West Region, comply with all safety regulations.
The Upper West Regional Director of EPA, Madam Zenabu Wasai-King, said the move was to avert any form of disaster in the region, more especially, one involving petrol and gas.
She said as part of the precautionary measures, the agency had initiated moves to close down all such stations operating without licence in the municipality.
Madam Wasai-Kingo to The Ghanaian Times that the challenge confronting the EPA now was not the newly sited filling stations within the municipality but these that had existed for years with the necessary regulatory requirement.
She said though some of these filling stations had been certified to operate, their zones of operations had been encroached upon by private residential developers which had posed a major challenge to the agency since it was difficult to ask owners of those filling stations to relocate.
“These residential developers, as to whether they have permit or not, is a challenge to us since the EPA has no control over their activities. In most cases, it is these developers that have encroached on the filling stations,” she stressed.
Some residents who spoke to the Times at Nakore expressed satisfaction at where the gas filling stations was located but were quick to raise issues with the petrol filling stations sited in residential areas.
They called on the EPA and all authorities involved to close down those filling stations to avert any major disaster.
Ama Tekyiwaa Ampadu-Nyarko reports from Koforidua that residents have urged authorities concerned to relocate all gas filling stations in residential areas.
Speaking to The Ghanaian Times in an interview, Rose Ansah, a resident of Effiduase, living close to a filling station, said sometimes when a tanker was offloading gas, “‘it is just God’s grace that prevents an explosion in the area”.
Another resident of Effiduase, Foster Agbenyo, told The Times that even though fear had gripped the residents, they had no option than to keep mute and continue to pray that no explosion occurred.
The Eastern Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Felix Addo Kyireh, reacting, said under no circumstance would his outfit allow gas stations to be set up close to resident adding that due to the nature of gas, all gas stations in Koforidua had been located at industrial areas, 50 metres away from residential areas.
Touching on the one situated at Effiduase, he explained that such a gas filling station had been given conditions to follow to which they complied and therefore had not experienced any gas explosion since it was constructed.
Daniel Dzirasah in Sunyani reports that some residents at Odumase in the Sunyani West District where a gas station has been operating have expressed reservations about the development.
According to them, they seemed to be sitting on a time bomb in view of the number of houses close to the gas station.
Gorden Walter Seade, a resident, told The Ghanaian Times that it was dangerous for authorities to allow gas stations to be sited in residential areas stressing that gas was inflammable and with any little spark, disaster could strike.
He appealed to the Ghana Standards Authority and the EPA responsible for issuing permits for the construction of gas filling stations to ensure that they were not sited in residential areas.
A taxi driver, Bukari Naaba, said he washes his car at one filling station near the Sunyani Polytechnic and expressed fears that something dangerous could happen one day.
Recalling an explosion at the place, in 2004 in which some people were killed, he appealed to authorities to relocate the filling station.
Residents in Cape Coast, according to our correspondent, David O. Yarboi-Tetteh, have urged the various assemblies, developers and regulatory authorities to restrict the establishment of LPG filling stations in residential areas to avert casualties in the event of an explosion.
They asked that developers refrain from building close to such areas while gas filling station operators should also desist from operating in residential areas.
Speaking in an interview, Joyce Hayford, a resident asked the assemblies and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate locations of such stations.
She said in spite of the establishment of most gas filling stations away from residential areas, developers had started building towards those stations which would affect the safety of residents, who would live close to the stations.
Bernard Sagoe, another resident, expressed worry about the increasing rate of siting LPG stations in the various communities in the Central Region and called for the adoption of a clear cut demarcation of areas for such stations.
He underscored the need for the assemblies to intensify their town planning activities in order to ensure effective development of the communities.
He asked the assemblies and regulatory authorities not to wait for disaster to strike before ordering for the closure of such gas filling stations on the grounds that they were located in residential areas.
The Central Regional Commander of the National Fire Service, ACFO Semekor Kwaku Fiadzo, told The Ghanaian Times that his outfit would close down any business enterprise including gas filling stations without the required safety certificate.
By Times Reporters