I had a recording at the Legon Botanical Gardens concerning a childhood cancer project that I am currently undertaking. After the recording, in the late hours of the afternoon, I decided to pass by a shop around Atomic Junction filling station to by a fruit drink. I stood there for some time taking sips intermittently and looked round before I crossed over to the other side of the road so that I could board a vehicle headed for Adenta (where I live). I came from Korle-Bu because my brother's birthday was the next day and my mother and I wanted to surprise him.
Everything was calm at home with normal conversations going on. I was texting on my phone when I heard a loud boom with a vibration that accompanied it. My bed shook and it felt like the beginning of an earthquake. Initially, I thought someone threw some fire crackers over the roof but the way the bed shook didn't add up ; Fire crackers are less violent.So, my mother and I went out to check but before we could reach the door, we heard another loud noise like the first one.
Then a third. We saw the fire ball in the sky ; even though it was night, the place lit up as though it were daytime. We live on a storey building so the we felt the impact even though the explosion was not so close.
After verifying the source of explosion, we headed for Aburi because it was not so safe to stay in Adenta given that we had already started feeling the impact. En route to Aburi, we found a lot of people running in a similar direction on the road. We stopped to pick some of them and there was a struggle for the car but finally, two people entered and the journey continued. They told us that they run all the way from Madina to Adenta and where they were standing previously had burnt.
I called to find out how my brother was doing and he said they were told to move to the hostels at the opposite end of campus due to the fact that they were too close to the explosion. He had to go by foot because Taxi drivers were so afraid that they would not stop even when signaled.
In short, areas around the explosion were in chaos and most people had to evacuate their homes.
There was a lot of human and vehicular traffic on our way to the safe haven. A lot of people were hurt as a result of the stampede. On reaching the mountains, we saw a lot of cars parked as though it were Saturday and people were coming for their morning ritual exercises.
We stayed there for sometime still communicating with family and friends to find out whether they were alright and if the fire had subsided.
At 10:30, we were informed that the fire had died down so we were able to return safely. That was the order (or disorder if you like) of 7th October, 2017 for me. It was one scary experience and I have never seen anything like that in my life.
The picture above is an idea that I wrote down on the 16th of January, 2017 to be dealt with in the form of one of my articles.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to because I had totally forgotten about it. In the same way, after June 3rd, the conversation on the regulation of filling stations went on because it made the headlines at the time with the mayor of Accra giving comments like : "this is not going to be a nine-day wonder".
Ironically, it was less than nine days when the conversations continued but no form of action was being taken. Till today, we are still talking about these man-made disasters we have created. All over the country, most filling stations are improperly sited which I like to call time-bombs. Time-bombs because we are living around these hazards not knowing when they will explode.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) fold their arms and watch as these fuel stations are lined up with some even sharing a wall. I don't support the Khebab Theory because I believe if the filling station, auditors and authorities had followed protocol, this incident could have been prevented.
Why must we wait for disaster to happen before we take action?
Why have we planted time-bombs all over the city and live at the mercy of the time they would explode?
The slums in the city do not help the situation at all due to the fact that the buildings are too close so if one building catches fire, the rest will follow. In my opinion, the whole city has to be restructured but which politician will have the political will to do it at the mercy of his or her votes ?
It is normal to see people living by pylons and cables that emit very powerful radiation that is so dangerous for cells in the human body. Try to stop people from living there and they will rise up because they will feel you are not interested in their well being.
It has been a popular joke that Ghana Meteorological Agency hardly predicts thunderstorms that come to pass. We may be laughing at the wrong sides of our mouths if we end up having to suffer the effects of a storm that took us unawares.
Ghana Television had a story many years ago concerning the fact that our Meteorological Agency have dysfunctional devices hence they may be unable to predict earthquakes and any form of similar natural disasters in the future. I did not see any follow-up report on this so I can not conclude as to whether they now have equipment or not.
We are quite fortunate not to have heatwaves, cyclones, hurricanes and earthquakes in our part of the world. However, in the wake of climate change, we will never know when their services would be essential. But must we wait for disaster to strike before we cry foul and demonstrate against wrong-doing that has been in existence for so long that it has become accepted as norm?
As stakeholders, we have to stand up for ourselves because it looks like all the agencies may not be able to protect us. If we all decide to demonstrate whenever and wherever we find improperly sited filling stations, we would put pressure on these agencies to do their jobs.