The taxi driver Mr. Johnson Afeti who drove under three minutes into the yard of the Fire Service Head Office to alert them of the fire outbreak at the Coconut Groove Hotel has described media reports purpoting to bring the name of the Chief Fire Officer into disrepute as unfortunate and baseless.
The Coconut Grove Regency Hotel in Accra tasted a touch of hell when fire gutted sections of the building which houses a branch of Dr. Nduom’s GN Bank and also one of his fleet of stations, Business Television Africa (BTA)
Speaking in an interview with Mr. Afeti in the aftermath of the doused fire, he told The New Crusading GUIDE that at the time of the fire outbreak, he was supposed to pick someone from around the hotel but when he showed up he realized that the person was not ready from where he was driving by on the street he saw the flames at first hand and didn’t hesitate to drive straight to the fire service yard because it was just a few meters away from the Coconut Grove Hotel.
He said, it was when he was leaving that he saw that the workers of Group Nduom were running helter skelter from the TV studios… “I saw people running gigidi from the top to down and also heard the receptionist shouting ‘what’s the number for fire service”.
According to him, he drove straight to the headquarters of the Fire service and made a report where a certain woman he referred to as madam attended to him. Mr. Afeti said, before he could finish his narrative, the madam raised the alarm and the firemen zoomed out of the premise to the fire scene. It was after they had left that she took my details as the one to have first reported the matter to them.
In a separate interview with one of the fire officers (name witheld) who was part of the service men deployed on the scene, he said that they did their best to contain the fire upon arrival at the fire scene and that’s why I didn’t spread to the main hotel area except the places where it was mostly wooden structures.
“But since we are dealing with humans you will always have those who will criticize your work and those who will praise you because while we were busy approaching the situation from purely professional and technical angle, there ordinary citizens who were also standing by and trying to direct us as to where we should be spraying the water but it doesn’t work like that”, he opined.
“As for those who are busy trying to denigrate our Chief fire officerin the media we can live with that after all it’s that time and season where people do all sorts of machinations for political appointments at the expense of the incumbent but all shall pass”, he emphasized.
The fire officer officer also bemoaned the rumours that they arrive with empty tenders but there were five tender stationed and fighting whiles the other nine were running to and fro to replenish the stationary ones with water and that’s why people thought we arrived with empty tanks which is not true.
He added that over the period, the service had chalked successes and improved upon response time due to availability of fairly new vehicles and this can be confirmed by the efficient operational response in controlling the Ashiaman Tanker fire, La gas explosion, Ashfoam fire and the June 3rd which earned the appreciation and admiration of the Ghanaian public.