The Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) has accused the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) of selling water from hydrants meant for firefighting.
In what appears to be evolving into a full-blown squabble between the two essential service providers over who is to blame for challenges in fighting Monday’s fire in the Central Business District of Accra, the state utility company said it has satisfied all of its obligations towards assisting the Fire Service do its job.
Speaking to Joy News, Chief Manager of the GWCL in charge of Accra East Region, Engineer Emmanuel Johnson, said the company cannot be blamed for the inefficiencies of the Fire Service.
“It is public knowledge that the tenders meant for firefighting are being abused. Evidence abounds across the country on how some personnel from the Fire Service draw water from the hydrants and sell to the general public”, he alleged.
He added, “GWCL as a company cannot be dragged into the Makola market fire brouhaha because there are enough water hydrants at the central business district. So they must accept responsibility for failing to quench the Makola Fire.”
The blaze which ravaged a three-storey building housing 108 shops, took about 72 hours to completely douse. At the heart of the difficulty in dealing with the fire was strained access to a fire hydrant.
Scores of the traders at the scene of the fire blamed GNFS for not being responsive.
“It started as a small fire, we went to call them and they said they did not have water. How can that be?” one of the angry traders quizzed.
Meanwhile PRO for the Fire Service DO1 Ellis Robinson Okoe explained that low pressure in the fire hydrants within the area greatly impeded their efforts in fighting the fire.
“It is unfortunate, all the hydrants within the Central business district have low pressure. So we had to go to other areas like Circle and Alajo to fill the tenders”, he said.
When asked why the low-pressure problem had not been fixed he said, “we all know that we pay a certain one per cent to Ghana Water Company. So if any of the GWCL officials are here, they can answer”.
Subsequently, Chief Fire Officer at the GNFS, Edwin Ekow Blankson, also alleged that all fire hydrants within the central business district had been sealed since 1992.
But Emmanuel Johnson said the account by the fire service cannot be true.
He mentioned that there are 70 hydrants within the Accra East Region with eleven of them in the Makola area alone. So it cannot be possible that the hydrants have been dysfunctional.
“GWCL can never be blamed in any way for the inability of the GNFS to fight or douse the fire on Monday to the expectation of the general public”, he said.
He added, “the GNFS should therefore adhere to their standard procedures. Actually, they need to check all their hydrants and make sure there is water in them and stop blaming other people for their insufficiencies”