The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has noted that interdicting the Chief of Mines and suspending the license of Maxam Company ahead of the investigation into the Apeatse explosion does not indicate the parties are responsible for the incident.
The Lands Minister earlier instructed the CEO of the Minerals Commission, Martin Kwaku Ayisi, to interdict the Chief Inspector of Mines, Richard Kofi Adjei.
Mr Abu Jinapor again directed that the Mineral’s Commission boss suspends its registration of Maxam Company Limited.
Providing the rationale behind his directive on JoyNews’ Newsfile, Mr Jinapor explained that to ensure a credible investigation, Maxam Company and Mr Richard Kofi Adjei had to step aside as both parties are at the centre of the exercise.
“It is just proper for the investigation and for the internal investigations of the Mineral Commission that the Chief Inspector steps aside in order for these investigations to be one that will be credible.
If you look at the law, the one who is directly responsible, if he (Kofi Adjei) is at post, I don’t know how credible the investigations will be. So it is just the right thing to do. Then you have this company which is at the centre of this situation. You don’t preclude the company from continuing its business of manufacturing and transporting explosives.”
According to Mr Jinapor, his directive does not assert that Mr Kofi Adjei and Maxam Company are to blame for the unfortunate incident that occurred at Apeatse on Thursday.
“Let me point out that this directive of mine by no means suggest that the Chief Inspector is guilty of any wrongdoing or is culpable. That should not be the conclusion to be drawn.
Interacting with host, Samson Lardy Anyenini, Mr Jinapor further revealed that the protocols of Maxam Company have not been perused yet and to ensure a similar incident involving the company does not recur, its operation must be suspended so as not to drag the image of government in the mud.
“We have not had the opportunity to interrogate their protocols yet and to conclude the investigation. God forbid, if we wake up tomorrow and we are told transportation of explosives by this same company in another part of the country has resulted in a similar tragic event, what will that tell of the managers of the country?
That will tell a very bad story of us and smack of bad judgment so I think that in the interim, while the investigations are ongoing, it is proper this company is precluded from the business that has resulted in this tragic incident. These are the fundamental reasoning that precipitated this action.”
In a press statement sighted by JoyNews, the Lands Minister explained his directive was pursuant to Regulation 2 of the Minerals and Mining (Explosives) Regulations, 2012, (LI 2177).
Per the regulation, “the Chief Inspector of Mines is the chief inspector of explosives, and is responsible for the supervision of the manufacture, storage, transportation, and use of explosives for mining and mine support services.”
Therefore, the Chief Inspector of Mines had to be interdicted pending investigations.
On Thursday, January 20, about 500 houses were destroyed after an explosion at Apeatse between Bogoso and Bawdie in the Western Region.
Videos circulating on social media showed the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) officials conveying what looked like bodies out of the rubble.
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Police revealed that a vehicle loaded with mining explosive moving from Tarkwa to Chirano mines collided with a motorcycle resulting in the explosion.
The Police stated that the rider of the motorcycle from the opposite direction rode under the vehicle at around 1:25 pm on Thursday.
According to the Police, due to the impact of the crash, the motorcycle caught fire and ignited the explosives on the DAF van. The DAF vehicle thus burst into flames.
According to the Service, 190 casualties were recorded by the National Ambulance Service and allied agencies. Thirteen people have been confirmed dead.
About 36 people have been admitted to various hospitals and four out of the figure are in critical condition.
So far, 96 individuals have been discharged.