Disasters Waiting in the Wings – By Kwame Gyan
In the absence of any decent and appropriate venue, the erstwhile car park of the International Conference Centre now turned into what has been christened The Dome seems to be the foremost choice for event organizers looking forward to packed venues for shows even if there is not enough seating for all. I understand The Dome seats some 4000 people. As I have come to know about Ghanaian event organizers, they will however sell tickets to more than the 4000 seats without a hoot about where the extra persons will sit for the 6-8 hours that they spend at a venue. There is however a disaster waiting in the wings at this makeshift entertainment centre and our authorities are either aware but have looked away, or someone does not seem to know his job.
Now imagine this: between 4 and 5 thousand people are crumped into a tarpaulin. The tarpaulin itself is a highly flammable material, remember. There are livewires running all across the stage and around it. There are heavy equipment and lightings around. The floor of the auditorium is made of woods which has been creaking for some time now largely because of the frequency of events there. Then we have roughly 65% of the audience being female most of whom are wearing stilettoes not less than 6 inches long with skirts and dresses so tight and short sons of Adam are left to salivate and gawk as though their lives depended on absorbing the sights of these daughters of Eve.
I do not mean to be a doom monger but imagine if one of these wires somehow catches fire! Some of our ladies even trip whiles walking in these with nobody touching them so picture what happens when hundreds of them are running to hit the only exit they have in sight! Here is the thing, there are hardly any emergency exists at the Dome! Yes people! Most of us will not bother looking out for things like emergency exist. If I am mistaken then it means that whatever emergency exists there is (or there are) are barely visible which defeats their purpose. I have not also seen any fire extinguishers too. Again, except if somebody has hidden them somewhere in the auditorium. So in the possible event of a fire or some other unexpected occurrence which will require that revelers exit from the Dome, a disaster will be expected. I am not the person to realize it, am I?
I think generally (and sadly too) that we are a people who attribute virtually everything, especially mishaps to the doing of the bearded old man above. But how did God tell us that when a bunch of idiots are climbing up a 50, 60, 100metre telecom mast they should not wear harnesses? Or they expect that when the soles of their smooth rubber shoes give way God will not take away their souls? There are state institutions whose job it is to ensure that companies and people adhere to safety and other regulations. But if as usual they fail to justify their salaries should it not be a matter of common-sense to those who climb these masts unattended?
Next time you drive by any of the new roads being constructed take a look at the folks working there. Ideally, they ought to be wearing hard hats (what we generally call helmets); then nose masks because of the dust all around them; and then goggles too to protect their eyes; then they ought to wear reflector vests so vehicles coming from afar can see them; then they need safety boots on their feet. But what you will see is that almost none of the local workers you will see is wearing no such personal protective equipment (PPE). The few with any resemblance of PPE will be some torn boots with their toes sticking out or some vests without any reflectors or a very dirty rug over the nose. The end result will be that they start having chest pains, eye issues, and all manner of injuries. Not too strangely you will find ministers of state or even the President visiting these sites and they will find absolutely nothing wrong.
A friend of mine narrowly escaped death on the Sunyani-Kumasi road more than a year ago. He didn’t know what happened but was told the car had somersaulted at least four times and had landed in the shrubs near-by. He escaped unscathed simply because he and another dude in the car had their seat belts strapped on. I understand there is now a law against the non-wearing of seat belts. Even still, you will find taxi drivers and passengers strapping on their seat belts when they are approaching police check points. I have even seen a trotro driver tucking the seat belt under his thighs upon seeing the police. Seriously, do people think they are doing the police a favour by wearing seatbelts? Until I started working for my current company I found seat belt wearing irritating. But after the accident I described and others, I even search for a seat belt in a trotro!
Yes the government and state ought to take the lead in most of these safety concerns but as we all know, most of our governments going back as far as I can recall either will not care or are too busy thinking of other things that interest them personally. So, it should be up to us to have some of these things changed. It should start with us, first!