MMDCEs blamed for inability of GNFS to fight market fires

Head of Public Relations at the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) Ellis Robinson Okoe has blamed management of various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) in the country for the numerous fire outbreaks in markets. There has been a number of market fires over the past few months, notably those in the Dome and Agbogbloshie markets. According to Mr. Okoe, management of the MMDAs have failed to collaborate with the Service to ensure that there is adequate fire safety management at the various markets. He also questioned why the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) has not ensured over the years that fire hydrants in the country had constant supply. Mr. Okoe disclosed this while speaking on 3FM‘s Community Connect on the back of a recent fire outbreak at the Odawna Pedestrian Shopping Mall at Circle. “I’m not surprised at all. The owners of these market centers do not consult us for the proper fire safety advice when they are building. So we tend to have issues when there is an outbreak. “We have reps at the various assemblies but they only call for assistance when the facility has already been built. It’s true we are also supposed to grant a permit before a structure is put up but who grants permit to an assembly when it wants to build?” he questioned. But Communications Director of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) Gilbert Ankrah disagreed with the position of the GNFS PRO. According to him, there has always been an effort by the Assembly to get all stakeholders involved in decision-making processes at all levels. He, however, admitted there is more room for improvement. Mr. Ankrah also called on traders to be responsible in their activities to ensure safety at all times. The AMA Communications Director expressed regret that some traders have consistently flouted the directive not to light fire in the market, be it for cooking or other purposes. He could, however, not say when the Assembly would start a 24-hour surveillance in the market, to prevent future occurrences. Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) in collaboration with other stakeholders have begun the registration of traders at the Odawna Pedestrian Shopping Mall to enable them identify those who need assistance following Wednesday’s fire outbreak. The inferno destroyed valuables worth thousands of Cedis, and the market has since been closed to allow authorities conclude investigations into the fire. Last Wednesday’s fire makes it the fourth time the market has witnessed such. Some traders believe the decision to halt business activities at the market is rather harsh as they plead with the authorities to allow them to trade at unaffected portions of the market.

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By Sarah A. Parku||Ghana]]>