A ‘Report on Apiatse Explosion’ which research was commissioned by Wacam, an environmental mining advocacy non-governmental organisation (NGO), has called for the review of the Minerals and Mining (Explosives) Regulations, 2012 (LI. 2177).
According to the NGO, in its report, christened ‘Report on Apiatse Explosion,’ LI. 2177 should include a provision for strict liability for a mining company that fails to adhere to the provisions of the regulations resulting in an explosion that causes injuries to people such as the case of Apiatse).
The group also advocated that the LI 2177 should have procedures upon which persons injured as a result of an explosion can claim compensation.
The Minerals and Mining (Explosives) Regulations, 2012 (LI. 2177) is the regulation that governs the transportation, storage and usage of explosives in the mining industry in Ghana.
Wacam’s Apiatse study was undertaken by a team of five (5), who include a lecturer at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Dr. Emmanuel Tenkorang (the team lead), the Executive Director of Wacam, Mr. Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, the Associate Executive Director of Wacam, Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, the Executive Director of Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL), Lawyer Augustine Niber, and the Executive Director of Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEPIL), Dr Samuel Obiri.
The study set out to investigate the cause of the Apiatse accident and interventions made by the relevant government institutions.
It also examined the relevant legislative provisions on explosive transport for mining operations and how they were complied with and made recommendations based on its findings.
Sharing details of the report with a crowded media in Accra on Friday, January 20, 2023, the leader of the research team, Dr Emmanuel Tenkorang, underscored that victims of the Apiatse incident should be adequately compensated as a matter of urgency for the loss of lives, properties and other rights violations.
He stressed the need for mining companies and its ancillary companies to follow all regulations and legal requirement in undertaking any operations, adding that such regulations and laws were there for very good reasons.
Other recommendations in the report include the requirement of the presence of a competent person.
“…for instance, in the case of Apiatse this person could have put the initial fire under control possibly preventing the second explosion,” he said.
Furthermore, the report charged the state to set up, especially in areas of high extractive and industrial activities, an emergency coordinating unit with the District Assembly put in charge of emergency response.
“This unit should be trained and given resources to be able to respond appropriately to emergencies in their jurisdictions,” he stated.
Dr Tenkorang also urged the state to create awareness on the dangers of explosives and how citizens should conduct themselves in similar situations.
“It is also recommended that persons injured as a result of the explosion take action(s) in court to claim damages for the negligence of the company for the injuries they sustained as a result of the explosion,” the report recommended.
The above recommendations when implemented, Dr Tenkorang indicated, would help prevent future occurrences of incidents such as the Apiatse explosion.
Earlier, in a welcome address, the Executive Director of Wacam, Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, registered his outfit’s displeasure at the ‘lack of transparency,’ on the part of the government, in making its report by the Apiatse Fact-Finding Committee public.
He reminded the government that issues of public safety were important for public discourse.
“We are marking the one-year pain of the people of Apiatse some of whom continue to live in tents and on the charity of benevolent people without knowing when they would be restored to their previous life of dignity and social cohesion,” he lamented.
According to him, the Apiatse explosion should serve as a springboard for the country to address the weaknesses in the mining regulations, and also for the government to deal with mining companies and their negative effects including those that provide ancillary services.
“We should ensure that the Apiatse Explosion is not treated as one of the serious occurrences relating to public safety in our country that are met with heightened enthusiasm but easily die off with time,” he cautioned.
While expressing solidarity with the affected people of Apiatse, Mr Owusu-Koranteng said Wacam was also calling for transparency for the causes and effects of the incident.
This, he noted, would ensure that duty bearers and the company are held accountable.
“A critical assessment of the negative effects of the explosion on the people of Apiatse reveals different dimensions of the impact on the people including but not limited to the Loss of Livelihood of Community People, Destruction of Personal Properties, Physical and Economic Displacement, Health Impacts, Fatalities (Deaths), Impact on Education, Social Disorientation and De-agrarianisation which is defined as the process of economic activity reorientation, occupational adjustment and spatial re-alignment of human settlement away from agrarian patterns,” he said.
In this regard, Mr Owusu-Koranteng entreated Ghanaians to draw lessons from the Apiatse incident.
However, he wondered whether the country would learn from painful experiences like the Apiatse explosion.
One of the victims, Madam Cecilia Abban, who attended the event, recounted her chilling and horrifying experience.
She, however, could not help it but kept on sobbing after what appeared to be a reminder of the trauma she was currently going through.