A hotelier and a prominent businessman has issued a warning to the government in the wake of the deadly fuel tank fire at the Matautu wharf on Monday.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, owner of Millenia Hotel, Tuala Oli Ah Him, said he keeps having nightmares about what could have happened.
“I’m not an expert on these fuel storage facilities,” he said.
“But what happened is an eye opener for our government and for everybody to look at what happened and how they can improve from it.
“We also need to upgrade our response to this sort of disaster in terms of possible oil leakage to the ocean and to the waterfront which will damage the reef from these villages to Leulumoega.”
Located at Sogi, Tuala’s hotel is not far from the oil tanks and Petroleum Products Supplies headquarters at Sogi.
According to him, the government needs to come up with a better plan in terms of extracting the oil from Matautu and where they should store it.
He reminded that there are a number of hotels and restaurants located just outside the Matautu wharf. From there a line of the main and bigger hotels in town stand in front of the waterfront starting from Aggie Grey’s, Tanoa Tusitala, Amanaki, Hotel Elisa and let alone Millenia hotel.
“It’s a real worry,” he said.
“You see, what happened on Monday was a big concern for the business community, especially the businesses on the waterfront.”
From Hotel Millenia’s view, Tuala said Sogi is another area that should be looked at.
“There are about six storage tanks similar with the tank that blew up (in this area),” he said.
“It is a great concern that what happened on Monday actually happened because we are under the impression that safety is the utmost priority.
“These things should not just blow up.”
According to the businessman, had the wharf blown up, it could have spelt an economic disaster for Samoa. It could have crippled the businesses and the country’s economy. And that’s not to mention the safety aspect.
This is why Tuala wants the authorities to take what happened seriously, with the view of making changes to avoid a repeat.
Tuala understands that the government is under resourced and are faced with other constraints but he believes this is an important issue that should be prioritised.
He acknowledged the hard work of firefighters that battled the fire and expressed his condolences to the man that died as a result of the explosion.
During a press conference on Tuesday, P.P.S Managing Director, Fanene Samau Sefo said there was no threat to members of the public from the explosion.
“The tanks were designed in a way that it cannot be destroyed by a fire,” said Fanene.
“I believe the evacuation was called for precautionary measures but with the fire alone, there wouldn’t have been a time when it would spread outside of the tank. The tanks are surrounded by a cement wall so if there is any fuel leakage it is contained inside the bund wall.”
The explosion killed a worker of P.P.S.