The Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) has observed that the Wa ‘Kejetia’ market located in the central business district is currently sitting on a time bomb as far as fire safety is concerned.
The already highly congested market has its situation further compounded by ongoing construction works and worse of it was the location of two fuel stations beside each other right within the market.
Mr Martin Bakobie, Divisional Officer III (DO III), the Upper West Regional Public Relations Officer (PRO), who disclosed this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Wa on Friday said a fire safety audit of the market by the Command revealed that it was sitting on a time bomb waiting to explode with a little trigger, adding that per its current nature, any fire outbreak there would be catastrophic.
He lamented how massive construction works were going on in the market without any recourse to the Service, blaming it on the uncooperative nature of stakeholders in the Municipality as far as fire safety issues were concerned.
With regards to the ‘Kejetia’ market situation, Mr Bakobie said the Command had made safety recommendations to the authorities, but none had since been implemented.
In the meantime, he said the Command had provided training for about 50 security men engaged by the market women to secure the market in order for them to double as fire wardens in the market.
“These security men now trained as fire wardens will be on the lookout during their patrols of the market in the night to identify and report immediately to the Service any potential fire triggers for them to be dealt with expeditiously”, he said.
The Regional Fire Service PRO noted that with the recent spate of fire outbreaks, the Command embarked on fire safety audit of various institutions including; education and health institutions as well as market centres across the region.
Mr Bakobie said some recommendations had since been made to the appropriate institutions for implementation, noting however that, no action had since been initiated by some of those institutions that had received their recommendations with regards to implementation.
He pointed out that it was quite disheartening to spend time and resources to embark on such a vital exercise and the recommendations would not be implemented to ensure safety.
“The Regional Command is very proactive in undertaking institutional fire safety audits and making appropriate recommendations, but our greatest regret is that these recommendations are not being implemented”, he further lamented.
Mr Bakobie noted that with the existing legislation, the GNFS had no enforcement power, but could only advice, saying if people refuse to implement the advice, there was nothing they could do to compel them.
“This is why we are pleading with the necessary authorities to review such legislation and give the Service a lot more enforcement powers so that when we make recommendations we can as well enforce their implementation”, he said.