Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fuel stations can be sited anywhere but standards must be met — Ayariga

By Edmund Smith-Asante, ACCRA

Fuel stations can be sited anywhere, provided they have been put up according to the safety measures prescribed by the regulatory agencies, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Mr Mahama Ayariga, has stated.

He said people had the mistaken appreciation of what happened when it came to the siting of fuel stations, adding, “It is possible for you to site fuel stations anywhere. It’s a question of what measures you have put in place to make sure that you address all the health and safety issues.”

“Sometimes people just think that because a fuel station is at a particular location it is wrong. It is not wrong simply based on the location.

It is wrong based on the impact assessment that had been made by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that if you really want to do it here, these are the measures that you must put in place. If you agree, we will give you a permit; if you don’t agree, we will not give you a permit,” he explained.

Mr Ayariga said this in answer to a question from the media when the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation took its turn at the meet-the-press series organised by the Ministry of Information in Accra yesterday.

The questioner wanted to know why, after a gas station had been closed down at Dansoman in Accra following an explosion in its vicinity, a Shell fuel station had sprung up close by.

The minister explained that the demolition, closure and issuance of instructions to some fuel stations to stop work were because although some developers did not agree with the measures recommended by the EPA and other regulatory agencies, they had still gone ahead with the construction of those fuel stations without permit.

Inappropriate influences
“Or they use inappropriate influences to get the permit, but if a third party comes and reviews what had happened, the third party will find out that whoever gave the permit must have been inappropriately influenced to issue it,” he said.

He cited instances when permits were given based on appropriate assessment, “but after they were permitted, the developers went and added inappropriate activities”, such as restaurants and other facilities that were not initially included.

Answering another question on whether a fuel and a gas stations could be constructed in close proximity to each other, the Chief Executive of the EPA, Mr Daniel S. Amlalo, stated that the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), the EPA and the Town and Country Planning Department (TCPD) were all institutions that issued permits before a fuel station could be put up to operate.

He said any developer who rightly obtained permits from all those institutions had the right to operate.

Plastic waste management
Touching on waste management, Mr Ayariga said a decision had been reached for all stocks of flexible plastic to be cleared in three months, starting from August 1 to October 31, 2015, in view of the ban on its use from November 1, 2015.

He also said all flexible plastic produced in the country would have biodegradable additives to make it easy to manage thereafter.
He repeated the directive that, henceforth, all flexible plastic should be labelled with the manufacturer’s name, logo, date and location of the company for easy identification.

Climate change
Mr Ayariga said the ministry had also developed a strategy to implement the National Climate Change Policy and demonstrate the government’s commitment to climate change issues and elicit funding support from the country’s development partners.

He listed some of the challenges the ministry faced as limited staff strength and logistics, inadequate funding, poor public attitude to the environment, the lack of technical manpower for the regulatory agencies and inadequate office accommodation for the ministry and some of its agencies.

He, however, stated that the ministry would continue to implement environmental management programmes and projects across all sectors, as well as science, technology and innovation activities, to enhance the economic development of the country.

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This was first published by the Daily Graphic on August 11, 2015

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