The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and other stakeholders have outlined measures to avert the recurrence of flooding at fuel filling stations in Koforidua in the Eastern Region.
The short, medium, and long-term measures include the reengineering of the Okumi River storm drain, dredging of the storm drain, halting of further development in the wetland areas, perforation of holes through the walls of the filling stations and regular inspections.
Others are the development of a buffer zone along the Okumi River and the discouragement of the people from throwing debris into the river to allow for free flow of water.
The actions were agreed upon last Tuesday by the stakeholders, including the Ghana Highways Authority, the Department of Urban Roads, the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and the Ghana National Fire and Rescue Service, after an inspection of three filling stations in Koforidua that were flooded on October 2, 2022.
The flooding led to the closure of Vivo Energy, Frimps and Goil filling stations, the NPA inspection team. Goil and Frimps, which have passed the water presence, observation well, marker concentration and product purity tests conducted by the NPA, have been allowed to start operations but Vivo Energy, which has failed the tests, remains closed.
A Deputy Chief Executive of NPA, Mr Perry Okudzeto, supported by the Director of Quality Assurance of NPA, Mr Theophilus Mohenu, visited the filling stations in the company of the Eastern Regional Minister, Mr. Seth Kwame Acheampong, and heads of the other state institutions.
In his remarks at a stakeholders’ meeting after the inspection, Mr Okudzeto said the Eastern Regional NPA team did an initial assessment of the filling stations, after which a team of directors and senior officers from Accra also inspected the affected outlets and presented a report to management.
Mr. Okudzeto said he was detailed by the Chief Executive Officer, Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, to come and learn at first hand what had happened, have a discussion with stakeholders and put measures in place to avert any disaster at filling stations in future.
He said the NPA did not intend to close the retail outlets, but fashion out how they could be supported to operate in a safer environment.
“Not a case to shut them down but what we can do for them to operate in a safer environment so that if the flood happens, they will be safer and help other outlets in the city to avoid being submerged”, he said.
Consequently, Mr Okudzeto said two of the filling stations, Frimps and Goil, which had met the prescribed requirements had resumed operations, and indicated that Vivo Energy would also be allowed to start operations once it passed the tests.
In his remarks, Mr Mohenu said it was an industry practice for retail outlets to check for water in their petroleum products every morning, but it had come to the attention of the Authority that many of them were not complying with that requirement.
Consequently, he said, three weeks ago, the NPA had written letters to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) stating that henceforth it was mandatory for retail outlets to check for water in their products every morning and record it.
Mr. Mohenu said the NPA team would be visiting the retail outlets monthly to check for water and quality of products and compare with what were recorded.
He cautioned that appropriate actions would be taken against retail outlets that would be found to have falsified their recordings.
For his part, Mr Acheampong affirmed the commitment of the government to creating the enabling environment for businesses, including retailing of petroleum products to thrive.