Places for storing hazardous materials be it highly inflammable or toxic are usually secluded from settlements and other activities that can ignite disasters.
But this appears not to be so at the depots of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport Company (BOST) at the Kaase industrial area in the Ashanti Regional capital Kumasi.
Imbedded in this facility are huge Storage tanks that can take up to 43 million litres of diesel, 34 million litres of petrol and 10 million litres of kerosene.
Strategic as this may seem; the risk of a fire outbreak in this highly inflammable facility and the extent to which this could cause a major explosion disaster cannot be underestimated.
A visit to this enclave however does not mirror any of these concerns as several wood factories, welders using soldering sparks, mechanics, shops and food vendors are busily working just close to the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport Company.
In close proximity to the depot are Sawmill Factories JE Timbers, Modern wood, GAC, STP, Logs Court and Hanmax.
Other saw milling companies which have gone dormant in the area include Ras timbers, Habitat, Fares, Franco and ANT.
Directors from these sawmills will not speak to Ultimate News on record even though their concerns are pronounced.
One of the managers told Ultimate News he has lived in developed countries where such facilities are located far away from other adjoining settlements.
He indicated that their boilers and dryers use some amount of fire which could be a source for concern.
He was also bothered about the operations of food vendors and the activities of vendors using fire to singe animal coat which billows thick smoke in the area.
The directors will however not take any suggestions to rather vacate the area for their safety arguing that they set up their company’s way before government decided to establish the Oil Storage and Transport facilities in the industrial area.
Just opposite BOST, an electric welder who gives his name as Eric Takyi is busily working.
He said their biggest fear is when the fuel tankers are driving in with the fuel.
“We are just opposite BOST. We don’t see it as a big issue but our only fear is when the fuel tankers are driving in. The road is busy but still they want to speed in and out of the depot which is very dangerous.” he said.
When asked whether he knew the fire service contacts to call in the event of any emergency, he replied in the negative. He was quick to add though that the fire service had a fire tender just in the premises of BOST to carry that burden.
Bertha Abolga has a container a few meters away from these welders where she cooks and sells rice, beans, ‘waakye’ and yam obviously cashing in on the workers here, her core customers.
She told reporter Ivan Heathcote – Fumador she was aware her shop where she cooks over charcoal in a built coal pot, is close to a hazardous environment.
She and her apprentices and employees would however not be so bothered as far as they have not yet witnessed any danger.
Meanwhile an Engineer with the company Newton Godfred Amo told Ultimate News the company is aware of the risk and has compensated people in the past, to vacate the enclave.
He pointed out that, “It’s a concern to all Ghanaians because if you see those tanks there, if one of them should catch fire, the whole community will be in danger. When the land was secured, payment were made to all the settlers around that area so nobody can claim or say that is where he stays and for that matter, he can be cooking or doing anything there,”
He however assured that managers of the company will be taking a relook at the risks to fashion a way forward.
“It’s good this has come up and we will be finding out from management if an urgent decision will be taken. We will see the necessary authorities to carry out an eviction for us because we cannot sit and allow a national disaster to occur.”
The Fire Service must have stationed a fire tender in this enclave. But whether it mitigates the fear of a possible disaster is a question that only time will tell.
By: Ghana/Ultimatefmonline.com/106.9FM/Ivan Heathcote-Fumador