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General News Tue, 29 Mar 2005

Shipyard workers blame disaster on inefficiency

Tema, March 29, GNA - Workers of the PSC Tema Shipyard on Tuesday said their Malaysian Managing Director (MD), Mr Rahin Bim Jaafa was responsible for the fire that destroyed the MV Polaris, a Togolese registered fishing vessel, and vital national installations.


Sparks from the welding of parts of the vessel were believed to have caused the fire when they came into contact with oil slick leaked from Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) pipeline on Good Friday.


They said maintenance work on vessels, especially wielding was prohibited in the Slipway Area but was done at the Dock Two or alongside of the Dry Dock, "however for reasons best known to him, the MD allowed wielding in the Slipway Area on a holiday".


The angry workers, wearing red bands, were speaking to the GNA after President John Agyekum Kufuor accompanied by Ministers of State and top officials of related organisations visited the disaster zone to assess the extent of damage.


As the President was inspecting the area, the workers in their working gear shouted "these Malaysians are killing us do something about them".


They criticised the MD for ignoring all technicalities involved and allowing a private contractor to engage the services of novices to undertake the job instead of the workers.

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"If we the workers of PSC Tema Shipyard had worked on the vessel we could have offered expert advice on safety and prevented the disaster," they said.


According to them they had worked on bigger super oil tankers and nothing happened because they had the requisite expertise.


Meanwhile, Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Harbours and Railways, who was on the President's entourage asked the workers to remain calm as a committee was in place to enable them to express their concerns.


In the morning of the Good Friday, Tema experienced a serious disaster as 15 people perished in a ferocious fire that devastated the vessel and important facilities like the TOR pumping station and pipeline, VALCO pumping house, VRA pumping house as well as private Tuna companies near by.


A seven-member Committee under the chairmanship of Nana Owusu Nsiah, Immediate-Past Inspector General of Police has been announced and it is to be inaugurated on Wednesday. A Greek is the owner of the Ship.

Source: GNA
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