By Martin K. N. Kollie
Standing with Ghanaians during these heart-aching moments and depressing hours is our compelling duty as Africans. Consoling and comforting President John Mahama and his people during this time of national mourning engenders a new sense of oneness in Africa. We must not allow Ghanaians alone to go through this period of sorrow and sadness if we truly believe in an unending crusade of African solidarity and unity.
Ghanaians need us more than ever before and we cannot afford to abandon them along this terrifying journey. The scar of Ghana’s recent tragedy is too panicking! Our hearts are in deep pain with all Ghanaians, especially those who were directly affected as a result of this strange phenomenon. The memory of ‘Ghana Petrol Station Disaster’ will forever remain fresh on the minds of Ghanaians and generations yet unborn. We want to extend our earnest sympathy to bereaved families as they endure this tough time of grief.
As Ghana rewrites its history, this disaster shall surely be recorded as one of the deadliest and most devastating of all times. June 3, 2015 was a sad day in Accra, Ghana when an explosion at a petrol station killed as many as 90 people, many of whom had sought shelter there from torrential rain. According to fire brigade spokesman Prince Billy Anaglate, the blast was caused by a fire that erupted at a nearby lorry terminal then spread to the petrol station and other buildings.
"It was raining last night and people took shelter at the filling station. And as they were there, because that is a filling station, it kept raining so there was still running water that was rising up. And, because it is a filling station there were a lot of fuel particles around it and it got contaminated with the water and then those that are not mixable with the water will definitely float. So, they were floating on the surface of the water - but it's running water, so it was able to run from the filling station to a distance where there was a naked fire and it picked the fire from there," Anaglate said. He said the fire ripped through the filling station, operated by GOIL, shattering windows and walls and reducing the station to rubble.
A friend of mine in a very frustrating tone phoned me from Accra to explain how terrible the situation was. “We are going through real trauma as a result of this incident. We did not expect this to happen, but it has taught us some real lessons. The loss is too grave. Flood in Ghana is intensifying every year and we need to work hard to control it, otherwise all of us will soon become directly victimized, He said.” Surely, if caution is not taken as soon as possible by all African nations, flooding will invade our continent one day. Ghana was caught unaware recently by this ‘Petrol Station Disaster’. It came as a soaring surprise to many Ghanaians, including foreign nationals.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was accurate in his assertion when he said “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” The recent disaster in Ghana did not only affect Ghanaians alone, but it affected every inhabitant of this continent somehow. What affects Ghana now and even tomorrow must be a paramount concern to Liberia and every nation in Africa. What affects Liberia must also concern Nigerians and South Africans. When Africans hold to this solid conviction of commonality and solidarity, our continent shall forever rise above its existing nightmares to a height of mutuality and prosperity.
Even though our backgrounds and beliefs may differ, but we are one people with a common goal to make Africa better through regional integration and cohesion. Even though we may share dissimilar political views and social identities, but this continent remains our heartbeat and nothing can prevent us from blowing an unrelenting trumpet of pan-Africanism and anti-imperialism. Even though our historical heritage and cultural values may slightly vary depending on geographical demarcations, but something deep down within us always reminds us that we belong to a blessed continent call Africa. A continent greatly endowed with abundance of natural resources and unmatched talents. We must unite now in order to advance a Continent that is prepared to prevent, respond, and control all forms of disasters posing severe threat to the survival and safety of Africans.
The 54 Sovereign States in Africa must begin to cultivate an unyielding path of mutual interest and respect if Africa must defeat prevailing foes including growing disasters. A new Africa is only possible when we (Africans) begin to demonstrate a spirit of collectivism, harmony, and brotherhood. The recent disaster in Ghana calls for Africa to step up its disaster management and control strategy in order to avoid potential incidents of catastrophe. Protecting Africans from hidden hazards and risks through genuine measures is critical to ensuring public safety and security. Africans have lived in fear and trauma for too long as a result of disasters. Some of the deadliest disasters of recent that have created a gloomy atmosphere over Africa and remain even visible today include:
These are just few notable incidents Africa needs to learn from. The emerging wave of disasters around Africa is disturbing and traumatizing. The African Union must engender a fresh, realistic, wholistic approach of addressing some of these unusual tragedies currently invading our continent. The initiation of an effective continental disaster management framework and roadmap is vital to enhancing regional security, sustaining inclusive development, promoting socio-economic growth, and preserving pan-Africanism and solidarity. It is time for all African nations to consolidate their efforts and resources to combat existing disasters and looming hazards.
About The Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian youth activist, student leader, an emerging economist, and a young writer. He is currently a student at the University of Liberia reading Economics and a member of the Student Unification Party (SUP).