Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

The MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has criticized government for establishing a committee to raise funds in aid of victims of the Apeatse explosion while investigations are pending.

A five-member committee chaired by former CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Reverend Dr Joyce Rosalind Aryee, has been set up to manage the “Apeatse Support Fund”.

In a Facebook post on January 26, Mr. Ablakwa noted that government should have waited for investigations into the cause of the explosion to be concluded.

According to him, findings from an impartial and credible probe would bring to light the party(ies) responsible for the January 20th explosion and ensure they cater for the cost needed to rehabilitate Apeatse instead of the state bearing the expenses.

He stressed that this is imperative as the parties involved in the incident have provided contradictory accounts of what exactly led to the explosion.

“In other jurisdictions, when disasters of the magnitude of Apeatse occur, they do not hurriedly set up a fundraising committee. First, they establish an independent, impartial and credible enquiry to conduct thorough investigations.

“The enquiry will then lead us to identify the facts (particularly as in this case there are such varying contradictory accounts); the investigations will also determine if the companies involved have questions to answer; the conduct of policymakers, examine possible regulatory lapses on the part of the Minerals Commission, and the role of the security agencies would all come up for intense scrutiny by the enquiry panel.

“It is absolutely possible that when the independent enquiry is completed, there would be no need to raise funds from the general public or use scarce taxpayer resources to assist victims and for reconstructing Apeatse because the entities found out to be responsible would be made to bear the full cost of compensation and rehabilitation/resettlement,” he said.

A Police report indicated that the truck transporting explosives involved in the blast was led by a Police escort.

But the Chief of Beppoh in the Prestea-Huni-Valley Municipality, Nana Atta Kojo Bremebi, has dismissed this report; insisting that there was no escort with the truck.

Also, according to a report from the Police, the truck collided with a motorcycle. However, the motor rider has denied the assertion.

Meanwhile, Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa has hinted that the Minerals Commission and the Police Service have been tasked to probe into the incident. He described the directive as “incestuous gobbledygook”; arguing that the compromised parties cannot investigate themselves.

“Here we are being served with an incestuous gobbledygook of the Minerals Commission asked to investigate itself as the security agencies are also requested to look into their own conduct. We love to complicate what is rather straightforward.

“How long are we going to continue to burden the already stressed Ghanaian taxpayer while we allow the mighty and corporate giants who flout our laws to maximize personal profit to get away with their blood-draping loot?

“The other cardinal advantage of a comprehensive, independent, impartial and credible enquiry is the opportunity it affords to critically appraise the entire spectrum of importing, transporting, transacting and utilization of Ammonium nitrate and other explosive chemicals with the view to improving our collective safety.”

The North Tongu MP further advised government to act appropriately while dealing with the issue. A failed investigation he said will serve as an entry for terrorists to intercept in-transit explosives.

He explained that “the explosive in issue is the most patronized by terrorists all over the world and it’s been so for many years — from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 1998 East Africa US Embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania, 2003 Turkish bombings, all the way to the recent numerous violent extremist onslaughts carried out by Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Algeria, Niger, Togo, Burkina Faso and other places.”

The MP added: “With the extent of international coverage the Apeatse explosion attracted and continues to attract, we must all be deeply worried that if we don’t compel our government to act appropriately, the international terrorist ring may just see a soft target in Ghana on how to have easy access to or intercept in transit, the dreaded ammonium nitrate — God forbid.

“In the meantime, let’s stop the pathetic window dressing and act right in our strategic national interest. This cannot be the time to shield, duck or cover up — the death and injuries of so many must not be in vain.”

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