Editorial : Recommendations on Michel Camp disaster must be implemented
Yesterday, we carried a story that 523 days after the Base Ammunition Depot of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) in Tema caught fire, and consequently discharged quite a number of ordnances into the surrounding areas, there has been no action to implement the recommendations of the committee, which investigated the accident.
According to the report, the investigators recommended the renovation of the existing ammunition depot as a temporary measure to forestall any future calamity. Others include the installation of a central air-conditioning system, fitted with thermometers, to monitor the temperatures in the various ammunition storehouses; the installation of an underground silo-type to house the ordnance, mainly high trajectory missiles, to mitigate the devastating effects in case of an accident.
Also recommended is the putting up of two more ammunition depots in the Northern and Central Commands of the GAF to reduce the quantity stored at the ammunition depot in Tema. Though these recommendations were reportedly made as far back as last year, nothing concrete has been done to avoid any future calamity and this is the worry of The Chronicle.
The Chronicle admits that constructing two new depots to house some of these arsenals would not be easy, looking at the cost involved. The Chronicle cannot, therefore, fault the government for failing to implement this recommendation. The government, through the Defence Ministry, has to secure funding, probably from external sources, before executing the project.
We do not, however, think implementing other recommendations such as the installation of a central air-conditioning system, fitted with thermometers, to monitor the temperatures in the various ammunition storehouses; the installation of an underground silo-type to house the ordnance, mainly high trajectory missiles, would be a finance burden that cannot be borne by the state.
But for divine intervention, Michel Camp and all the surrounding towns such as Tema and Ashaiman would have suffered severe casualties if the missiles that exploded in January last year had gone into the air and landed in homes of the civilian population.
There is no way we can stop stockpiling some of these weapons, because, as a nation, we have to also prepare ourselves and be ready to defend our territories should we come under attack. But in so doing, we must also be thinking about the safety of the civilian population who have built their houses close to the military base, and which ought not to have happened in the first place.
But if the state sat down for chiefs and families to sell the surrounding lands to civilians to build houses, then the civilian population cannot be blamed. This is the reason why we insist the state has the responsibility to protect them, and that she should not sit down for the unexpected to happen.
No amount of money that is going to be used to implement the recommendations of the committee can be equated to human lives that would be lost should a disaster strike the area once again. We hope the government and the Defence Ministry are reading this and will act immediately.