The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) licensed 3,468 bulk road vehicles (BRVs) and drivers between January and June to enable them to haul and distribute petroleum products across the country.
The Director in charge of Inspection and Monitoring at the NPA, Ms Esther Anku, explained that the measure was in line with efforts by the authority to reduce incidents of road accidents among BRV drivers which had become a worrying phenomenon and, in some cases, led to devastating consequences.
Ms Anku was speaking at a safety workshop and clinic organised for BRV drivers, owners and operators by Chase Logistics, operators of the Tema Tank Farm (TTF) in the Tema Industrial Area, last Friday.
The programme, dubbed: “Tema Tank Farm’s BRV Clinic”, was on the theme: “We mean safety: All accidents are preventable” and sensitised stakeholders in the petroleum transportation sector to risk reduction.
It was attended by members of the Ghana National Petroleum Tanker Drivers Union (GNPTDU) and other affiliate bodies.
Ms Anku said the NPA was liaising with BRV driver unions to train and license all their members, after which only certified drivers would be permitted to drive petroleum product haulage vehicles.
Previously, BRV drivers only had DVLA required licences for driving trucks. The NPA’s new certification regime, however, has introduced modules, which include knowledge about how to handle petroleum products, enhanced safety and security lessons, as well as defensive driving.
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Ms Anku said the licensing regime was also to provide a framework for proper monitoring by the NPA, especially of illegal activities such as siphoning, smuggling and related offences.
As a follow up to the new policy, she said, four BRV inspection facilities had been licensed by the authority, in collaboration with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to undertake bi-annual inspection of BRVs prior to the granting of full licences by the NPA.
“Recognising that the training of BRV drivers in defensive mechanism and safe handling of petroleum products is key to the prevention of accidents, the NPA, together with the DVLA and the Road Safety Limited (RSL), have developed modules for training and certification of all BRV drivers in the industry and we expect the training of the first batch to commence by the third quarter of 2019,” she said.
Ms Anku expressed optimism that industry players in the sector would collaborate and help address the safety deficiencies in the sector.
The Head of Safety at the Ministry of Energy, Mr Addo Twum, at his turn, said following the completion of work on a health, safety, security and environment (HSSE) manual which provided guidelines for safety operating procedures, the ministry was seeking to adequately sensitise players to the need to prevent accidents.
He emphasised that safety was a collective responsibility, hence the need for players to build a positive safety culture, provide training support and equip personnel with the right tools to ensure safer operations.
“Success or failure ultimately depends on personnel, hence individuals ought to comply with the requirements associated with loading, transportation and unloading of petroleum products,” Mr Twum stressed.
The Managing Director of Chase Logistics, Mr Bartholomew Darko, for his part, said the company saw the need to create a platform for all players in the chain to collaborate and significantly reduce risk in their operations.
“Given the crucial role our tanker drivers play and the systematic and un-systematic risks in their operations, it is important that from time to time we create a platform that will discuss our operations and workable preventive measures that can be brought to bear to safely contribute to the development of the country,” he said.
He, however, expressed regret at the condition of the roads linking the area which hosted many oil and gas installations, as well as electricity generating facilities, saying all the companies in the enclave rendered essential services to the country.
Mr Darko noted that whereas the government generated significant revenue and taxes from the enclave, owing to the industries located in the area, the condition of the roads was one that could compromise safety.
“It is regrettable to note that while our vehicles are certified as road worthy, our roads await certification to be worthy of the vehicles that ply them,” he complained, and expressed the hope that a petition sent to the Minister of Roads in respect of that would receive the necessary attention.