A former Minister for Environment, Science Technology and Innovation, Mahama Ayariga, believes that it is wrong for the government to use state funds to compensate victims of gas explosions and similar accidents largely caused by the negligence of private companies.
According to him, such practice does not encourage fuel station owners to be responsible in adhering to the safety requirement with seriousness.
Mahama Ayariga noted that, if fuel station owners are made to bear the cost of such compensations, others will be forced to ensure discipline within the industry.
Speaking on Point Blank on Eyewitness News on Wednesday, Mahama Ayariga said, “in the US, UK and in other developed jurisdictions, owners of the facilities will be in the vanguard when it comes to ensuring safety at the facility because they know that if there is any damage to a third party, the government will not pay to help you out. You will be held accountable.”
“I think it is wrong…We’ve been engaged in the wrong practice, where somebody starts his business at a location, brings dangerous practice, undertakes to be careful, fails in his duty of care, the product escapes, kills, maims and damages people’s property, and I am made to pay for that while he and his insurers walk away,” he lamented.
While urging victims of fuel station accidents to sue the responsible companies, the Bawku Central legislator said, “It doesn’t help in the long-term because it doesn’t impose the kind of discipline that we need in the 2,900 other fuel stations in the country, and also in the 599 other gas stations across the country, because what will ensure our collective safety better is that discipline where individuals themselves are ensuring that they buy the best facilities and equipment, they employ the best people to run these facilities, and regularly train them to continue to monitor to ensure that the place is safe.”
Ayariga further insisted that, state agencies or the government ministries must be blamed for fuel stations that do not comply with safety standards.
According to him, the agencies are directly responsible for the issuance of permits and licenses, as well as periodic inspection of fuel companies to ensure they were operating appropriately.
7 people were killed, with 132 others injured, as two gas explosions occurred at Atomic junction in Accra on Saturday.
The explosions left many structures destroyed with some vehicles totally burnt. The incident has revived discussions about he safety compliance levels of fuel stations in the country, including the role of state agencies in ensuring that fuel stations were operating as expected.