The Ghana National Fire Service is blaming the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) for the extent of damage recorded at the Makola Market in Accra, after fire gutted a three-storey building filled with wigs and other cosmetic products.
According to the Service, although there is an existing arrangement for the Ghana Water Company to supply water in cases of emergencies, the latter failed to do so even after several calls to them.
The Fire Service spent over five hours battling the flames that gutted the building.
Although the incident occurred at Makola, fire tenders had to go as far as Achimota, Circle or Kaneshie to access water.
Eyewitnesses blamed the Fire Service for the level of destruction caused by the inferno.
Addressing the press on the outcome of preliminary investigations into the incident, the Chief Fire Officer of the Service, Ekow Blankson complained about the unresponsiveness of the Ghana Water Company Limited.
“We had the first call at 9:41 am [on Monday], however, because of the situation on the ground, we needed additional pumps. It is not to say that the Fire Service went to the grounds without any water. For security purposes, we always rely on ECG to disconnect the power in the area to make sure the responders are safe. It is not to say that they [our team] never went, and they were scared. Rather, we saw the need for them to have more backup so that they can storm the building.”
“Of all the responders, the Ghana National Fire Service was the only fire agency that stormed the building. We had to call for extra pumps. I was very much disappointed because we had an arrangement with Ghana Water Company Limited contractors to supply us with water, unfortunately, they did not come, and the message I had from my operations officer was that the last time they [GWCL] were given coupons instead of cash.”
“If you never complained about receiving coupons instead of cash at that time, but decided to keep quiet until another outbreak of fire to disappoint the Fire Service, it’s quite unfortunate. We had to bring extra resources. The army and police came for protection purposes, Aviation was about to come, but I stopped them because I thought the fire was under control.”
GWCL denies claims
But speaking to Umaru Amadu Sanda on Eyewitness News, the Head of Communication at the Ghana Water Company Limited, Stanley Martey, denied claims that the outfit was responsible for the late response of the Fire Service.
“I am privy to the sound from the press conference held by the Chief Fire Officer, and he said we failed to supply them with water via tankers. I’m sorry, Ghana Water Company does not do tanker service. Even when we did the free water supply during Covid last year, we all heard that we had to rent private tankers to be supporting us, and we paid them. We also don’t have any contractors that supply water. They are private entities, and we also hire them when we need their service.”
“The fire hydrants are fitted to our main distribution lines and on almost every kilometre there is a fire hydrant. So we supply water via our pipelines and not tankers. He can’t conclude that our pipelines are often dry because when the three initial tankers came they were full, and I was there personally and there was no point in time that they didn’t have water in any of the tenders, so nobody can blame Ghana water for it,” he added.