Spio-Garbrah commiserates with gas explosion victims

We are all very saddened to hear of the explosion near Atomic Junction, less than two miles from my West Legon House.

We regret the loss of life and property, and pray for the bereaved families and for speedy recovery for those injured.

My related experience with this subject, as recent Minister for Trade and Industry, who oversees the Ghana Standards Authority, is that there are needless turf battles between most regulatory authorities as to who sets standards especially in the petroleum and power sectors, and who monitors and inspects them.

The GSA argued that there should be only one standards-setting body and then numerous regulators to enforce those standards in collaboration with the GSA.

However, some energy-sector regulators and agencies resist this approach and try to do their own thing– often due to their desire to collect various license and inspection fees.

As a result, while there ought to be inter-ministerial and inter-agency collaboration across the economy, there is a high level of silo mindsets in the public service.

So whereas, petrol and gas stations could be monitored and inspected by teams of 3-5 from relevant agencies, the task may fall on just one individual from one agency, who may not have all the relevant knowledge of all related aspects of the technology, the standards, the safety rules and enforcement requirements.

Such one-person or one-agency inspection officers, in contrast to an inter-agency team of 3-5, are easier to compromise and bribed by petrol and gas stations which are flouting various rules and standards.

Unlike inspecting a hotel or restaurant, where those which don’t meet standards may simply inconvenience guests or give someone stomach poisoning, the non-compliance to standards in the energy, power, petroleum and construction industries, can lead to many deaths, as we all see and hear from time to time.

So, we should all appeal to the relevant government agencies and their supervisory ministries to do more to enhance inter-agency collaboration, in order to save more lives, and also to make our industries more efficient and competitive.

We pray for the peaceful repose of the souls of the dearly departed.