Activities of some residents of Bankuman in Tema Manhean are endangering the safety of pipelines buried for the transmission of natural gas by the West Africa Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCO).
Their activities either in or at the edge of the gas pipeline’s right-of-way could lead to a possible fire outbreak and a national disaster.
A visit to the area by stakeholders revealed construction of permanent and wooden structures right at the edge of the 25metre right-of-way, heaps of refuse, sand winning and molding of building blocks.
Residents living near the right-of-way have ignored signposts and barrels placed there by WAPCO to mark the boundary and warn them off and have turned the place into a thorough fare to their densely constructed structures.
Mr William Osei Owusu, Deputy External Relation Manager of WAPCO, who led stakeholders to the site said residents sometimes use dynamites and fire crackers while others also engage in bush burning near the buried pipelines.
Mr Owusu, who gave the assurance that even though natural gas has a low environmental risk, building and digging on the right-of way could affect the integrity of the pipeline.
He further noted that if the encroachment was not stopped, it could lead to national disaster should a rapture occur on the line since natural gas was odourless therefore making it difficult for residents to detect a leakage.
He said it was unfortunate that numerous community engagement and education in addition monitoring on the line by WAPCO officials and the clearing of the way to distinct it was yet to yield the needed results.
He appealed to city authorities to enforce the laws and regulations on acquisition of permit before the construction of structures since it was evident that those residing close the lines had no building permits.
Representatives from the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA), Tema Development Corporation (TDC), Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana National Fire Service, Tema Traditional Council and some residents brainstormed on the best ways to stop the encroachments.
Participants agreed that WAPCO must acquire a buffer zone and construct a fence wall to protect the lines.
The Company was also tasked to change its signposts warning people keep off the place, to danger signs and must be in English and local languages to enable residents get the message clearly.
WAPCO was asked to put in measures to check massive erosion on the right-of-way to prevent exposing the gas pipelines buried underground.