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Friday, September 2, 2011

No need for a Typhoon nor a hurricane…

News from friends in Taiwan about a Typhoon affecting their services and from those on the East coast about a Hurricane called Irene demonstrate how fragile our services are when it comes to the effects of weather.

Here in Ghana we do get floods storms, dust devils that can knock down a tree and other weather phenomena, but we also have the ‘power of the contractor you never saw’.

Recently, our local petrol station was refitted. Wonderful stuff, new tanks, clean fuel and forecourt to match most good stations in the world.

Then, disaster struck. Apparently there was a leak in the lines and a few thousand litres of petroleum products leaked under the forecourt.

Station closed, we drove by looking for fuel elsewhere and hoped that the whole forecourt would not ‘go up in a fireball’ as we watched the contractor back on the site, hitting the concrete with a seldge hammer and welding some stuff around the leakage areas…

Then, one happy day last week, it was announced that it was fixed. Yippee!!

Tens of thousands of litres of fresh fuel was filled into the underground storage and the station re-opened. Yesterday, Matthew went and filled the car, and got fuel for the gensets. Patricia took the Previa (limited to local runs due to its recent temperament and fuel consumption) to take the Kpong staff home. Whist she was gone the genset for the offices started to run rough and stop. ‘Oh, it needs servicing’ Matthew explained as the phone rang. Patricia was on the line saying that the Previa had stopped running suddenly and it sounded like it had compression and a spark, so she suspected fuel.

I asked what the fuel gauge read… before she could answer Matthew said, ‘I filled it this morning’. None of our minds connected the two events, not even during the ensuing recovery mission to get the Previa towed in with the reliable Truck that is now our main workhorse.

We got back after dark and all the girls had gone to the accommodation. ‘Our batteries are dead on our torches’ they complained, adding ‘and the accommodation genset is low on fuel’.

Matthew and Juliet set about filling the genset at the accommodation units and although it was empty the funnel quickly filled to overflow. Torches were brought to see what we were dealing with… the fuel canister, filled at the same time as the car was filled earlier in the day, and used to top off the office genset in the afternoon, was half full of water and rust particles.

Chicken Licken would have proclaimed that the sky had fallen as the crashing in on our corporate minds and a chorus that Handel would have been proud of, proclaimed ‘damn, the fuel station has a line problem still’ in better unison than any rendition of the Halleluiah chorus!.

So, everybody aboard the truck and off to the station, where Zack the owner, when confronted with the canister with water and rust in, immediately accepted the problem as his own. So, we are halfway through the next day, looking for replacement fuel filters, draining tanks, handling more challenges than planned for…

So, whereas some folks have a typhoon or a hurricane to present challenges, here we are able to generate our own without intervention of any atmospheric phenomena, all it takes is the petrol station ground works contractor to render a little mayhem, expense and challenge to the day!

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