Monday, 16 February 2015

Tema Fire & the Need for Gov’t Structures to be More Proactive


Ghanaians woke up to reports of fire gutting the Central medical stores at the Tema Industrial area which served as a hub for storage of a chunk of the country's medical supplies including a storage facility for the World Health Organization.

It took days for a combined team of National Fire Service and Fire personnel from the
Industrial area in Tema to quench the fire. Government is yet to come to terms with the loss, which runs into millions of Cedis as it emerged that the medical facility was not insured.

One question which most Ghanaians keep asking is, how did that happen''? How come
government after government could not ensure that premium was placed on a facility that served the health needs of HIV and AIDS patients, the aged, the country's work force, mothers, infants and babies yet to be born?

This is a clear violation of human rights and smacks of lack of discipline. It also exposes weak supervision, for that matter in most of the country's government institutions. At a news Conference in Accra, The Chief Director at the Ministry of Health cited lack of funds as a reason for not insuring an essential property as the Central Medical stores. Should the lack of funds continue to cost the state millions of Cedis given the magnitude of waste in most
government establishments?

A simple calculation can be done by driving around the city after working hours and one would be surprised at the numbers of lights left on in most government establishments while workers had long gone home. It is time for us, as a country to be proactive than retroactive. Authorities in charge must think through and adopt precautionary measures in administering government institutions.

The fire at the Central Medical Stores once again brings up for discussion the question whether; the National Fire Service has the capacity to do its work. Fire fighters and other personnel including the media were asked to vacate the medical stores fire scene at a point because there were no oxygen masks available.

Furthermore, it was difficult in the first place for the fire team to locate a hydrant from the onset of the fire, because the outlets were blocked. Ensuring that all buildings adhere to fire safety codes is clearly a responsibility of the National Fire Service. It is about time this nation became more proactive at consolidating gains made. What looks like back tracking is not going to do us any good. It is better late than never we must say to Interior Minister, Mack Woyongo who has called for the installation of Close Circuit Television Sets, CCTV's at the country's essential facilities to serve as surveillance.

That will surely be an easy way to catch perpetrators of evil deeds and bring them to book. Even though investigations are on-going, some eye witnesses say refuse burning at the premises of the Central Medical Stores could have caused the fire. If this turns out to be true then, this is clear negligence. Perhaps it is time to ban the burning of refuse within city limits. Ghanaians deserve to be told why, who and how the nation's Central Medical stores filled with supplies were gutted by fire.

The Interior Minister says he is not ruling out arson. What we need to be cautious of is over politicising this issue. During a medical emergency, political colorations do not matter. What matters is the capacity to save lives. How are we saving lives as a nation?

If we sit and allow millions of Cedis to go down the drain, in an already precarious economic climate. President Mahama has described the burnt down Central Medical Stores scenario as a ''national tragedy''.

It is indeed a tragedy to see that authorities in charge of government institutions are less proactive, and this attitude must stop!


By Rebecca Ekpe, A Journalist.

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