Chairman of the Mines and Energy Committee in Parliament, Samuel Atta Akyea has welcomed the decision by the committee set up by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) to look into the explosion at Appiaste in the Western region, to find MAXAM company Limited.
The company that is in charge of the manufacture, storage and transportation of explosives for mining and other civil works, has been slapped with a fine following the explosion.
A statement issued by the Lands Minister Samuel Abu Kinapor on Tuesday February 8 said “Following the incident, the Minerals Commission, the regulator of the mining industry, conducted its investigations, in accordance with the Minerals and Mining (Explosives) Regulations, 2012 (L. I. 2177), and submitted its report to me. Given the complexity of the matter, I constituted a three-member Committee, chaired by a highly reputable former Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, Mr. Benjamin Aryee, to carry out independent investigations to corroborate, or otherwise, the findings of the Minerals Commission.
“On Tuesday, February 1, 2022, the three-member Committee submitted its report. Upon a review of the two repo., the Ministry has established regulatory breaches on the part of Maxam Ghana Limited (hereinafter referred to as “Maxam”), in respect of the manufacture, storage and transportation of explosives for mining and other civil works. These breaches, per L.I. 2177, attract fines ranging from six hundred cedis (GI-1000.00) to ten thousand United States dollars (US$10,000).
“Nonetheless, having regard to the nature and totality of the circumstances leading to this tragic incident, I, as the Minister responsible for Lands and Natural Resources, and, therefore, the overseer of activities in the sector, have imposed an administrative fine of the cedi equivalent of one million United States dollars (US$1,000,000.00), at the prevailing commercial rate, on Maxam.
“In addition to the fine, it has been agreed, after extensive discussions with Maxam, that the company will pay to the Government, the cedi equivalent of five million United States dollars (US$5,000,000.00) also at the prevailing commercial rate. For the avoidance of doubt, the total amount payable by Maxam to the Government stands at six million United States dollars (US$6,000,000.00) or its tech equivalent at the prevailing commercial rate.
“Maxam shall pay the fine of one million United States dollars (US$1,000,000.00) or its cedi equivalent at the prevailing commercial rate before the restoration of its permit to manufacture, store, supply and/or transport explosives. Given the demonstrable cash inflows of Maxam and their current circumstances, the remaining five million United States dollars (US$5,000,000.00) shall be paid in eighteen (18) equal monthly instalments, beginning from 1. March, 2022 to 1. August, 2023.”
The company has however denied wrongdoing in the explosion that occurred at Appaiste near Bogoso in the Western region.
A statement issued by the Management reacting to the findings made against it by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources on Tuesday February 8 said “Maxam has been deeply saddened by the road accident and the loss of lives, injuries and extensive damage to property suffered by the Appiatse community. Our hearts go out to the community members.
“Maxam has noted the findings made by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources from its review of the tragic road accident and its assessment of how to avoid a recurrence. The Ministry has determined that there were certain breaches by Maxam in its operations and has imposed a fine of US$1 million on the company. None of these breaches were the cause of the tragic road accident and all of them relate to the transport carried out by Arthaans Logistics. Based on a different interpretation of the applicable regulations, we believe that Maxam has not committed any of those breaches, however, to ensure the continuity of the business, to be able to supply our customers, to protect the employment of our workers and sub-contractors, Maxam has decided to pay the fine and will comply with the measures of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
“Given our commitment to Ghana and its welfare, Maxam has agreed to the payment of additional Five Million United States Dollars or its cedi equivalent.
“We are indeed saddened by the incident and we express our heartfelt sympathy to Ghana, particularly, members of the Appiatse community for the loss of lives, property and livelihoods.
“Maxam will ensure it is in full compliance with the new regulatory measures announced by the Ministry and will continue to conduct its operations in accordance with the laws of Ghana and international best practices. Maxam wishes to emphasize its sympathy with the Appiatse community.”
Speaking in an interview with TV3’s Parliamentary correspondent, Komla Klutse on Tuesday February 8, Mr Atta Akyea who is also lawmaker for Abuakwa South said “Sometimes if you are not careful it becomes draconian and it is like you trying to whip them up to the reality that, if you are doing such a sensitive job you can incurred heavy cost. So I am of the view that this is the beginning just to make sure that they wake up.
“You should also bear in mind that If it becomes too draconian also, t might even affect their corporate effectives or efficiency. In terms of the money they have to use for all these things. I can see that the payment is not that Okay in terms of an upfront payment, we are staggering the payment which is to say that they are not as liquid as some people are supposed because, they would have said they will pay upfront and that will be the end of the matter.”
Regrading MAXAM’s claim that they are not culpable, he said “That is contradictory because at the end of the day I have said and I am tempted to come to some conclusion that the committee will of necessity involved MAXAM before it can come up with any conclusion that is the point of the matter.
“So all that there is that they have to say by way of ex parte evidence they might have said it already so to come and after the findings have been handed down to say you are not liable leaves much to be desired and I don’t think that is the way to go. It is also equally insulting on them that when you are not culpable you want to pay money.”