BY MUNTALLA INUSAH | firstname.lastname@example.org
THE GENERAL Jurisdiction Division of the Accra High Court has refused an interlocutory application filed by T-Tekpor Energy asking the court to quash the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) decision to revoke its licence.
The company was earlier given a licence to operate a gas filling station and distribute same but safety concerns later prompted the NPA to revoke its licence. Not satisfied with the decision, T-Tekpor Energy filed an application in court asking that their operations be restored by NPA.
But the court presided over by Justice Kweku Tawiah Ackaah-Boafo ruled that a gas filling station situated between two schools, Tema International School and Tema Rich School, cannot be allowed to operate.
The court was of the considered view that the safety of the over 800 school children and the residents of Afariwa, near Tema, was at risk. Justice Ackaah-Boafo ruled that NPA, as the authority body, acted rightfully since it would be blamed for any future disasters.
DAILY HERITAGE’s Court Correspondent Muntalla Inusah reported that the parties have been directed to go to the negotiating table and file their terms of agreement to the court on March 18.
The company, which is located at Afariwa, near Tema, in November 27, 2018 filed an interlocutory application asking the court to quash NPA suspension of its gas operation at the present location.
The company, per the court documents, is located between two schools; Tema International School and Tema Rich School at Afariwaa Junction within the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly and the location raises safety concerns about the people in the area.
The Company (Applicant) is in Court because the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) has by a letter dated November 7, 2018 suspended its operation at the said location on the grounds that the Company’s operations pose a risk to two schools located within the proximity of its activities and the residents of the area.
Mr Barfo-Bonney, lawyer for the applicant also contended that the decision of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NPA was a unilateral and that since the NPA has a board, such directives ought to have come from the board and not the CEO.
It also argued that the CEO’s letter contained no expert advice and that the applicant had operated for over 13 years at the site without any trouble and so there should not be any reason to warrant revocation of licence.
Therefore, the court should quash the suspension of the licence.
Counsel for NPA, Akoto Ampaw, in his argument, told the court that what applicant was seeking from the court was unknown, because they ought to have come for a judicial review instead of an interlocutory application.
On the merits of the application, he further argued that the application was unfounded and misleading and therefore should not be entertained by the court since the law gives the NPA the authority to award and also revoke licences.
On the argument that the NPA did not seek expert advice prior to revoking its licence, the counsel said NPA had the legal backgrounds to do what it had done and so do not need experts to act.
Mr Akoto Ampaw further submitted that the NPA is vested with the requisite authority to act and therefore it does not require any expert body at all times in order to do its work or performs its functions.
According to Learned Counsel to accede to the Applicant’s submission to appoint “experts” is to ask the NPA to go on a “wild goose chase” in the performance of its statutory functions
He said it would be irresponsible for the NPA not to act until after disaster had happened.
Akoto Ampaw also argued that T-Turbo Energy had been advised to go and fill their gas cylinders at a different location and come and distribute at the present location but it refused.
He explained that filling the cylinders at the present location put the over 800 school children in the area as well as residents at the risk and the damage will be higher than the economic gains of the applicant.
Counsel, therefore, asked the court to affirm the suspension of T-Turbo’s operations as directed by the CEO of NPA.
The Court, presided over by Justice Kweku Ackaah-Boafo, in his ruling, said the applicant failed to show there was an irreparable damage of the operations for which reason the court ought to protect their interest and restrict NPA from acting.
The court also ruled that the applicant could not lead any evidence to properly contest the affidavit in opposition and the respondent’s statement of case.
Justice Ackaah-Boafo’s court also was of the considered view that the applicant did not show that the NPA violated its own mandate when it stopped applicant’s operations and that T-Turbo failed to demonstrate the hardship it would suffer.
The court argued that it was rather the respondent that demonstrated it had the right to protect and the authority to prevent risk. It, therefore refused the application.
“Based on all of the above and having regard to the competing claims of the parties and given the facts and the background of the case and on the balance of convenience, and basing myself on the rule as stated by the Supreme Court per Kpegah JSC in EKWAM v PIANIM SUPRA, having regards to the totality of the evidence so far filed in this case, I hold that based on the law on the grant or refusal of injunction as stated above that it shall not be just and/or convenient in terms of Order 25 r 1(1) of CI 47or even if the Court was to invoke the inherent jurisdiction of the Court to consider this instant application.In the light of the foregoing reasons above, the application for an order “lifting suspension on operation of Gas Filling Station and Supply of Gas Products” is refused,” the court ruled