The Marred Yuletide

Christmas in Ghana

This year’s Yuletide should have been one of the best in recent times. Reason: Nana Akufo-Addo has won an election with an unprecedented margin in recent times. The result of the development has been a countrywide feel-good syndrome among citizens, majority of them having clamoured for a change in the political and economic direction of the country.

Some spare part dealers decided to scale down prices as a gesture of thanksgiving and happiness over the change which has finally dawned on the country.

On the other hand, however, a gas explosion left bitterness on our palates: many lost their lives and survivors were inflicted with life-long physical deformities.

President-elect and Vice President-elect Nana Akufo-Addo and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia respectively visited the survivors on admission in various health facilities; a gesture which offered a fillip to the recuperating patients – the countenances of those out of danger showing it all as they engaged the visitors in brief chats.

It is heart-wrenching to see bandaged infants in the wards. We cannot avoid posing questions even before the report of investigations by the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) is released. Were safety procedures followed sufficiently, given the dangers posed by operating contrary to these?

Fatalities through gas explosion most certainly must be the result of certain human blunders from operators of the facility. We are not experts and must await the report though, given the fallouts from the explosion, we are pained that so many persons must die this way, leaving families devastated.

Do GNFS personnel undertake regular checks of such facilities to ensure that basic safety regulations are adhered to? What is the level of cooperation between the operators of these facilities and the GNFS? Do we have periodic seminars for operators of these facilities on the adherence to basic safety regulations? We are in a country where the importance of the GNFS is hardly recognized save when there is a fire outbreak. That is why when personnel go on routine inspection of facilities owners find their work a nuisance and would rather they do not turn up at all.

So many persons are still shedding tears after losing their beloved ones: others are enduring the pain of witnessing on daily basis their family members deformed by the terrible effects of gas fire.

We recall the speed with which fuel filling stations which did not meet standards were closed down shortly after the Circle disaster. One particular one situated at Mile 7, which was closed down, is now fully functional because the facility is owned by an MP from the NDC fold.

When we engage in the selective application of the law, the result is disturbing fallouts – the ripples affecting extended families.

The president-elect said it all when he asked that safety regulations are adhered to.

Fire regulations must be enforced to the letter and those defaulting should face the law. May the souls of the deceased rest in peace and those recuperating respond to treatment.

We hope that the report from the investigations, when it is ready, should not be confined to the shelves to gather dust but the recommendations therein implemented to obviate future disasters.