Some residents of Menekpo near Kodjonya in the Lower Manya Krobo Municipality of the Eastern region have made a passionate appeal to the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA; the Lower Manya Krobo Municipal Assembly, police, opinion leaders, traditional council and the National Petroleum Authority, NPA to intervene immediately by stopping the construction of a new petrol station within the community in blatant disregard of NPA regulations.
The residents, who cited the June 2015 fire/flood disaster that occurred at a Circle Filling Station in Accra which claimed over 150 deaths and the destruction to properties as one of their fears, said they feared a possible replay of that tragedy if steps are not taken and the facility becomes a reality.
‘We aren’t safe at all. It’s unfortunate that the authorities have turned their backs on us despite the several issues we have raised,’ madam Beatrice Ayertey whose house is separated from the filling station by only four feet lamented bitterly to newsmen. Another resident, Jonathan Atterh who could not hide his frustration accused the authorities of total neglect and collusion with the developers to endanger their lives. ‘If they weren’t in collusion with them, then how come they have turned a blind eye to this situation despite the several concerns we are raising?’ he quizzed.
Sipim Angmor Owuadjao I, an opinion leader who doubles as spokesman of the aggrieved residents told Rite news that the residents have bared their teeth against the illegal citing of the project for the better half of the last three years, all to no avail. He recounted several instances of affected residents sending letters to the relevant authorities, something that has yielded very little result.
‘We first noticed the structure on February 2, 2014 and sent an Okyeame to interrogate its purpose but he was sacked,’ Sipim Angmor recounted to Rite news. According to him, what alarmed residents the most was the sinking of a tank ostensibly to contain the fuel when operations start. ‘We immediately rushed to the then newly sworn-in Municipal Chief Executive, Mr. Jacob Acolatse who could not do much because according to him, he had just assumed office and he wasn’t aware of the development. He subsequently directed us to the District Engineer who confirmed knowledge of the Engineer. He however indicated that their hands were tied because the operators of the filling station had all the requisite papers,’ the opinion leader lamented.
He continued that despite subsequent follow-up letters to such regulatory bodies as the EPA and the NPA, no action was taken except a ‘stop work’ sign post that was put at the sight. This however did not deter the developers who continued with work. The peeved residents followed up yet again with letters to all concerned stakeholders including the national security, adding that ‘work still continued even after this step.’
A tour of the cite by the media in the company of other members of the community revealed that the yet to be completed filling station is situated only feet away from houses, contrary to NPA regulations that states that such facilities are cited not less that 100ft from residential areas leaving, the community toilet, the community library the Millennium Presbyterian Basic School and many residents at its mercy.
He produced various copies of the letter which were written to the various bodies signed by Nene Angmor Owuadjoa, a divisional chief of the area, Mr. C. L. Djaba, an elder in the community, Mr. John Lawer Djembi , chairperson of a school management committee, and Mr Anati Benjamin, a PTA chairman.
One of the letters which was dated May 20, 2015 was captioned “letter of protest-save our souls” and copied to the then Eastern Regional Minister.
Part of the letter read;” we the leaders , with the consent of the townsfolk in the Menekpo community and its environs are raising this protest against the construction of the filling station, which is in the heart of the community and also too close to dwelling places as well as public facilities.
Nene Ayertey Bana III, Asafoatse of Kojonya Alabonya who also decried the citing of the filling station in the heart of the community chastised the developers for ignoring a directive from the paramount chief of the Lower Manya Krobo traditional area, Nene Sackitey II which he personally delivered to them. He did not hide the readiness of the traditional council to seek police action if the developers still flout the orders of the traditional council.
Meanwhile, authorities of the Millennium Presby School, one of the affected, declined comment on the matter and rather directed the press to the Municipal Education Office. Madam Rose Yaa Akanyi, municipal director and pre-school consultant told Rite news that her office was going to hold talks with the municipal assembly on the issue.