Darkness befell the entire nation on October 10, 2017. The usual serenity of a Saturday evening where families get rare ample moments to share and bond with each other was ruffled following a gas explosion at the Atomic junction in Accra throwing the nation into spontaneous grief and left all crestfallen.
The explosion was deafening. Residents, and “hang-arounds” which included petty traders and commuters around the area were thrown into a state of panic in a desperate ruckus for survival as the explosion at the gas station spread to adjacent structures.
The huge orange fireball billowing from the source of the gas leak which lit up the cloudy evening sky of Accra and could be seen miles away with many people in the vicinity taking to their heels in a bid to escape the blaze.
The resulting casualty has been devastating. Figures from the Information Ministry revealed that as at 11: 30 on Sunday morning, at least seven persons had been confirmed dead, and 132 hospitalized with various degrees of injuries. Businesses valued at several millions of cedis, were also razed down in the raging inferno.
Preliminary reports have blamed the intellectual capacity of those handling the discharge of gas from haulage tankers to a residual one at the station.
The aftermath of the event is worrisome but could the casualty levels have been minimized if a little bit more sanity had been made to prevail in the area?
According to eyewitness accounts, the period between when the gas begun to leak and when it came into contact with fire was enough for the people around the filling station to fully evacuate the area. This means, if the area has not been so densely congested, the ensuing stampede and resulting death and injuries would have been averted.
Prior to the disaster, the traffic situation at the Atomic Junction area was brutally hellish. Whoever allowed the citing of three filling stations, a gas outlet, plus a trotro station and droves of hawkers and stalls on the streets should be held at the scruff of the neck as a major culprit.
In as much as unfortunate incidents do happen, one do not need to any forensic knowledge to know that we are our own nemesis. We don’t need an explosion to decongest our streets for us.
Today, a drive through the area is unimpeded. The usual setbacks that impeded its free flow has magically disappeared. We certainly do not to shed a life for this simple task to be done. All actors must bow in shame.
The turn of events now is therefore a clarion call on the authorities to strive and clear all other areas with such prevalent conditions. We hope not for a repeat of the incident or for a disaster to strike in another form but should it happen, we can afford to let it affect those on the fringes.