Deputy Minister of Energy (Finance and Infrastructure), Joseph Cudjoe, stands behind the National Petroleum Authority’s 2019 launch of the “People Safety First” campaign, an NPA-led initiative launched to raise awareness for safety protocols in the petroleum sector.
Read his speech made at the NPA’s head office Tuesday below:
The Chief Executive of NPA, Alhassan Tampuli;
The Governing Board of the NPA;
Distinguished Invited Guests;
The theme for today’s event “PEOPLE SAFETY FIRST” again shows the need to strictly adhere to the required safety protocols expected in the petroleum downstream industry, especially when one considers the steps government through the NPA is taking to address the incidence of gas explosions in the past, and I am delighted to be associated with it. There is a call on all to make safety the key word in handling petroleum products in order to reduce if not eliminate the reported cases of fires associated with it.
The petroleum downstream industry which the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) regulates affect a very large segment of the population economically and safety wise, hence, the interest shown by the media, organized labour and other civil society groups on matters of safety.
Petroleum Service Providers
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, all of us know that the Ghanaian public have become impatient with Government and regulators on the repeated incidents of explosions, and are therefore not ready to take excuses any longer. This places greater responsibility on us to act decisively, strengthen our regulatory standards and enforce the standards.
Let me place on record that, in my recent interaction with the Chief Executive of the NPA, Alhassan Tampuli and his hardworking team, I was impressed by how much work they have done to ensure industry players under their watch adhere to safety procedures, which are paramount to the effective performance of the downstream sector. A safety conscious sector gives the consumer confidence, thereby driving growth and efficiency.
Operating at the very end of the petroleum value chain, our proximity to human populations, their health and safety; and consequently, their property, the requirements for improved safety standards place on us the duty to be more responsible. The recent petroleum related explosions in Kumasi and Atomic Junction should remind us vividly about the enormity of the challenge.
In spite of the dangers of poor safety and regulatory regimes, and the continuous efforts regulators are making to ensure the protocols are adhered to, some few interest group(s) are determined to frustrate the processes that will lead to an enhanced safety protocol in the downstream sector.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to therefore reiterate that industry players need to take the bold step of adhering to industry safety standards through industry associations and peer review and where necessary expose their peers who are not keeping up with the industry standards. This will not only complement the role of our regulators but will embolden them to take decisive disciplinary actions against offending industry players based on industry recommendations.
I would also like to caution the general public to be sensitive to their surroundings; and be bold to resist the temptation of patronizing services of stations that expose them to extreme danger. In most cases, the consuming public and other users of land often disregard safety warnings and operate near facilities or building structures closer to such petroleum installations. They then turn around to request the NPA to close down the installations. This is not acceptable. To this end, I wish to call on the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority and the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies who plan our communities and issue building permits to people, to take cognizance of this imperative and ensure that the safety of people in their jurisdictions becomes their utmost responsibility.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we have all been seeing and hearing on the airwaves, the NPA has not relented in its public education programmes aimed at equipping consumers with the knowledge of how to safely handle and use petroleum products. It is essential therefore that the NPA has deemed it imperative to intensify its public education campaign on the safe use and handling of this product.
Mr. Chairman, the industry cannot exist efficiently without adherence to safety protocols. In view of this, the National Petroleum Safety Campaign was launched in 2017 by the Regulator to draw attention to the collective responsibility of the industry to operate safely. This culminated in the signing of a Safety Declaration Placard by the industry to commit to safe operations. In order to sustain this practice, the National Petroleum Safety Campaign is being sustained this year to raise awareness of our collective responsibility to safety of the industry and consumers. I hereby declare the 2019 National Petroleum Safety Campaign duly launched.