False gas explosion alarm creates chaos, gridlock

BY: Salomey Appiah-Adjei
Mr Prince Billy Anaglate, PRO of the Ghana Fire Service
Mr Prince Billy Anaglate, PRO of the Ghana Fire Service

There was chaos on the Ofankor-Achimota-Amasaman section of the Accra-Kumasi Highway last Monday evening that resulted in a gridlock for hours following news of a gas explosion at a station somewhere along that stretch of the road.

The news, the source of which could not be ascertained at the time, created an atmosphere of fear and panic among road users and the traffic jam lingered on till Tuesday morning.

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At some places, passengers got off commercial vehicles and ran for their lives. At others, vehicles that were travelling from Kumasi to Accra and were nearing where the vehicles had massed up quickly reversed on hearing of the news of the explosion and the huge traffic jam.

The situation was made worse last Tuesday morning when a Man Diesel petrol tanker broke down on the same route, causing more traffic.

The news of the gas explosion, which was fanned by some Accra FM radio stations, was debunked by the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) on Tuesday morning.

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Eyewitness report

According to some drivers using the highway, they did not see any fire or smoke but only received information that there was a gas explosion.

“I was told there was a gas explosion but I did not see any fire or smoke and was asked by other drivers to turn and find another route to Amasaman,” Mr Kofi Asare, a driver, said.

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Another person who was caught up in the traffic, Ms Doreen Hammond, said she was told there was a gas explosion but she neither saw fire nor smoke.

“What I saw were police vehicles and recovery trucks and that made me believe that something had happened. I spent more than three hours in traffic,” she lamented.

Other people said the fear of being caught up in traffic when there was news about a gas explosion brought back memories of the fatal Atomic Junction gas explosion that hit Accra last year and that was made worse by a text message, accompanied by the picture of gas exploding, that was circulating on social media.

GNFS dismisses report

Meanwhile, the GNFS has dismissed news of a gas explosion at a gas station, describing it as “a mischievous attempt by someone to create fear and panic”.

In an interview in Accra yesterday, the Head of Public Relations at the GNFS, Prince Billy Anaglate, said the service received a distress call at 7 p.m. last Monday that a gas tanker had exploded at Ofankor.

“A fire tender was dispatched to the scene but it could not trace the incident. This was a mischievous attempt by someone to create fear and panic,” he stated.

He said further that a petrol tanker broke down at Ofankor about 4:30 a.m. last Tuesday, which worsened the already heavy traffic on that stretch of road.

“The breakdown of the tanker was just a coincidence and had nothing to do with the prank call we received yesterday,” he said.