Last night, an explosion struck Ghana, again. Credible News outlets reported that two gas stations at Atomic (an area in Accra), blew up in flames late evening yesterday, and sent flares that illuminated the whole city like never before. Folks out in Osu could feel the ripple effect of this explosion. As usual, the town went into panic mode. People within that vicinity started running for their dear lives, ignoring the heightened fright that panicking causes.
This explosion once again revives memories of 4th June 2015, when more than 150 people were killed when they sought shelter from seasonal rains and flooding at a petrol station.
Also, as usual, response to this unfortunate incident was slow. It was reported that fire officials were lengthy minutes late to quench the fires. All these led up to a situation where citizens were unaware of what was happening and left them worried sick about their relatives and friends.
The use of modern technology could be utilized in situations like this, to at least mitigate fallouts and keep people better informed.
The Use of Drones
In such situations where people are running away from the situation, and those supposed to be running towards it are for some reason slow at that, the use of Drones come in handy. Nothing prevents the Ghana National Fire Service from engaging indigenous and highly capable Drone companies such as AeroShutter in getting status reports when the first explosion went off or better still, purchase their own drones and train people to man them.
Situations like this is where we need sensible people like @AeroShutter and others who are good at manning drones
— Kiko (@WhoKIKO) 7 October 2017
Humans can’t get any closer, but the drones can. They not only give first-hand video coverage of the situation on the ground, but give accurate information to the response teams on how best to approach the area, what roads to use, and where to evacuate affected people. This is an initiative that could have given an aerial perspective about the damage and danger zones.
Efficient Use of Social Media
— BoiJake (@_BoiJake) 7 October 2017
When the first explosion went off, I ran to my twitter to get first-hand information on what had just happened. My TL was still full of Naija vs Ghana banter. Not even the news handles knew what had happened. The official Government handles we’re also mum. This led to people tweeting from their limited knowledge about what had happened.
I wasn’t surprised when people used the situation to fabricate a shooting in the Airport Area that never happened. This is how social media can lead people to react to fake news. The Government handles should have put out first-hand updates as they got them. Inform the people and not let dubious people create fake news and speculate.
The news of last night’s gas explosion at Atomic Junc, resulting in the loss of 4 lives & injuries to several others, has left me devastated
— Nana Akufo-Addo (@NAkufoAddo) 8 October 2017
It’s so sad that only at 9:57am this morning did the president’s handle put out a tweet. Almost a good 15hrs later. Did he just get information about this? Of course not! The government needs to be intentional and proactive about their use of social media in informing their people.
The Role of the Telcos
So not a single mobile network operator was able to send us an Amber alert but they are quick to inform you that you’ve exhausted your data
— Picasso Jaeger (@William_Quartz_) 8 October 2017
Of course, after a horrific incident as this, people are worried sick about their relatives, hence a plausible network block. Of course, the telcos could not have predicted such an incident, but their immediate response to this is of immense importance.
It would have been nice to have the telcos give out free airtime to customers, to enable them to reach their families that live around the area and ensure safety. That shouldn’t have been the time for your network to be dilapidated, Tigo.
It would have also been nice to send Amber alerts, informing your customers who are unaware of this incident. Instead, your favourite yellow telco was tweeting from a pool party at the time of this incident. Sad!
The Need for 24/7 Customer Service
I called Ghana fire service almost 8 times and it rang to the end with no one answering all 8 times
— Princess Ida (@Ida_Heide) 7 October 2017
It’s so sad that for some reason, the fire service’s number rang out over 8 times with no one available to respond. At times like this, 24/7 response is needed, but for the fact that they still live in analogue, this can’t be possible.
The Ghana National Fire Service having a social media presence is one way they can ensure 24/7 response to all situations. If this was the case, maybe, just maybe, mobilization and response could have been faster.
I’m sure these initiatives were suggested after the last gas incident, and yet, here we are again. Maybe we’re just a reactionary people and not about prevention. Hopefully, the right eyes get to see this, and adequate action is taken, to help handle such unplanned incidents better.