A worrying number of institutions including schools and hospitality centers in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis in Western Region are either without a fire certificate from the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) or a fire insurance certificate or both.
A two-day enforcement exercise conducted in the Western Region by the National Insurance Commission, the Ghana National Fire Service and the Ghana Police Service further revealed that for some of the institutions, they have never acquired a fire insurance or fire certificate since they were established.
All owners and/or occupiers of commercial buildings and commercial buildings under construction are required by law to obtain the compulsory fire and insurance certificates.
Section 218 and 219 of the Insurance Act (Act 1061) state, among other things, that persons who contravene commits an offence.
Only four out of the twenty institutions visited by the taskforce on Monday, August 2 and Tuesday, August 3 had valid fire certificate and fire insurance certificates.
They are Goil Filling Station at Chapel Hil, the Western Royal Montessori at Kweikuma, the Palms Hotel at Beach Road and Choice Mart Supermarket at Anaji.
Apart from the Goil Filling Station that had properly displayed their certificates, the rest had not properly displayed theirs contrary to what the law states.
Five institutions could not prove whether they have done either a fire insurance or have fire certificate or before.
They are Animens Hotel at Beach Road, Chapel Hill international School, New Rising Sun Montessori Chapel Hill and Latino Guest House West Fijai and the New Pathway Academy.
For the Summit Lodge at Chapel Hill and the Twin City Hotel the two certificates had expired since 2019 and there has been no attempts to renew them.
Interestingly, the owner of Summit Lodge is the regional chairman of the hoteliers association and was even part of previous seminar on commercial fire insurance which was organised for the Hotel Association in the western region.
Even though Hotel Messiah had valid fire insurance and fire certificate, management did it only last month after a visit of a monitoring team from the National Insurance Commission.
For the Akroma Plaza, both their fire insurance and property insurance certificate had expired three months ago.
The Akyea Guest House had renewed both the fire insurance and fire certificate but the certificates were yet to get to them.
The Grand Favor Hotel and the Modenbo Guest House had valid fire insurance certificates but were yet to do the property fire certificate.
The Sunesit Academy at Anaji told the taskforce that they had valid certificates for both fire insurance and property insurance, management could not prove their claim.
Like those who have defaulted, they were issued with a warning letter and given days to prove their claim.
The Sanctuary Montessori at Anaji had a valid fire certificate but had an expired insurance certificate.
Western Region Director of the National Insurance Commission Justice Peprah Adjei expressed worry at the revelations after the two-day exercise.
“It is very worrying that owners of such properties appear not to be bothered about the insurance. And when you look at it, some do not even have a plan or any intention to either renew or acquire one.
“What we have also realised is that even for some of the top places even though they had them, they were not properly displayed. To the extent that some gave excuses that the certificates are either locked up in their rooms or had to send them via mobile phone to us to ascertain their claims. This is wrong, the law says you have to display the certificates. Because it is to assure the public that the place is safe. So, it is not enough to just have them but they must be displayed.”
He also advised the general public to be on the lookout for “these certificates when they visit public places as it will be in their own interest to do so”.
“Take the Melcom case, for example, if a lot of people had entered at that particular moment and there was a collapse imagine the lives that would have been lost, the injuries. Who would have compensated these people and their families. That is why it is important to have these insurance… the general public should understand that the insurance is for their own good because you can never tell when it will come in handy. So, if you are going to a school, a church, shop or hotel please check whether there is an insurance… In case something happens then you will know you whether you are safe or you are not. So, be mindful of the places you patronise.”
As at the time of filing this report, only the Latino Guest House and Grand Favor Hotel had complied with the 24-hour order on them to produce their insurance certificate.
The rest were yet to comply.
By Eric Yaw Adjei|Connect FM|3news.com|Ghana