Never Again Must We Witness Another Apiatse Disaster

News of an explosive truck belonging to Maxam Ghana Limited collided with a tricycle while transporting explosives from MAXAM’S Bulk emulsion plant at Iduapriem, Tarkwa to Chirano Gold Mines Limited in Western North Region last week.

About five hundred structures were destroyed, livelihoods and precious lives lost due to the incident after a truck carrying explosives caught fire in a collision with a tricycle at Apiatse a town along between Bogoso and Bawdie in the Western- Region.
Per a release from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, due to the impact of the collision, the explosives detonated and affected a nearby transformer which also exploded in addition.

Sad and gory as it may seem, this accident or disaster was preventable. Effective implementation of best practices on explosive transportation could have either eliminated this disaster or minimized the consequences or the damage.

The entire area should have been cordoned off for the security agencies to carry out their assessment at the flattened area but rather people were flocking the scene using phones to take pictures ostensibly not knowing the degree of fatality it was for such an explosion.

On recovery and restoration efforts, the community will need a resettlement plan since it cannot be habitable but with the good news that the government has commissioned the State Housing Company (SHC) to immediately map out plans to reconstruct Bogoso Apiatse which was reduced to debris as a result of the explosion brings some sort of relief although the scars of that fateful day will forever remain permanently with the indigenes.

Individuals, Religious bodies and Corporate organisations have been donating cash and other essentials and medical consumables as part of efforts to ensure that the victims are rehabilitated.  Well done to the medical team at the various Medical Facilities for the medical care;  and to all who have visited the scene to commiserate with the victims by contributing all forms of donation in time to help rebuild the town.

Having worked on a Mine in the past and per the safety training I underwent, I am of the view that if adequate safety education on the transportation of explosives in mining areas had been carried out, the loss of lives could have been avoided. There should be enough education in that regard for handlers of the explosives I must say.

Just maybe the Apiatse incident will re-echo that the time has come for a review of dangerous goods transport such as explosives and petroleum products like Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG). It is also a clarion call as a nation for us to review the explosive transportation system in Ghana.

Additionally, emergency response training should be included as part of our lessons in schools so that at the onset everyone has an appreciation of what disaster is. This fatality is a constant reminder for motorists not to drive directly behind highly inflammable vehicles.

The majority of extractive companies depend heavily on MAXAM for their explosive materials however the directive to suspend operations in Tarkwa is going to have an adverse effect on mining operations in the country. Per the LI Minerals and Mining regulation LI 218 (2) [Health and Safety Technical regulations and LI 217 (7) [Explosive regulations] stipulates punishment for violations of the law when proven hence the facility to be shut down and that is what has been done as we wait for investigations to be concluded and presented.

Safety and by extension individual safety should be a topmost priority. As we wait for the findings of the Minerals Commission and its allied agencies, may the Good Lord keep the souls of the departed, speedy recovery to the victims and Never again should we witness such and another Apiatse disaster.

The writer,  Sekyiwa Darko, is a Communications Consultant and Strategist with a career history in the Extractive industry in Ghana, South Africa and Tanzania.