The Neglect of Security & Safety At Events; The Stonebwoy Factor

Popular Ghanaian musician, Stonebwoy and his Burninton Music Group , under the aegis of Zylofon Music, did put up one grand music concert at Ashaiman, touted by many as one of, if not the biggest concert done in the capital thus far in the year.

However, all the talk after the show has been fixated not on the performances, not on the mammoth attendance and disappointingly not on the historic sight of Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale on the same stage. The incessant chatter has been hinged on the laxity of security at the event.

Thankfully, there was no report of casualties at the concert but clearly, occurrences at the concert exposed the security lapses in almost all departments of the event.

Stonebowy’s concert mirrors a lot of ills in event organization in Ghana, and how robust we are in checking and correcting these flaws would save lives, properties and reputation at events.

Crowd Control

If the event organizer has no control over the audience, then it has no control over the show, because, the most essential component of the event is the audience for which the event is being produced.

It’ s a problem if the crowd has the leeway to maneuver its way through security zones at the venue and most often; the artists are the most culpable of this breach.  With the warped mindset that barricades inhibit fans from enjoying the show, artists blatantly call on the crowd to always move past the barricades and get closer to the stage – creating room for chaos and indiscipline.

Unfortunately, most event organizers, who are responsible for every department of events, especially security, are unable to stand up to these artists when such lame calls are made.

In major concerts held in various stadia, parks and arenas, the crowd stays far away from the stage and as disciplined as they are, they stay there and enjoy the show. Also, as disciplined and security conscious as the artists are, they perform, regardless of where the crowd is placed.

Stage Security

This phenomenon is getting out of hand at event venues and this solely, is the responsibility of the organizer. As witnessed at Ashaiman, performances of artists also see a multitude on stage – marring the beauty of such performances and posing grave security threats to the performers.

Inexplicably, these persons who mount the stage have no part to play in the set of the artists; they just stay on the stage and gawk!

It is interesting to note that, 60% of the persons found on stage during artists performance are part of the event organizing team. For them and their inexperience minds, being on stage at those times, gives them some sort of control or oversight over proceedings.

The rest of the 40% who seem to find some of joy on stage are the entourage of the artist. The manager, the publicist, the stylist, the chef and the driver all believe, that being on stage while their employer performs is a sign of support and show of duty.

Sheer Neglect For Safety, Health & Security

Event organizers are overly conscious of commercial gain when they put up events, which makes them compromise on safety. When drawing their plan, they check out areas such as sound, light, stage set-up, performances, and security at gates to check tickets but woefully fail to check out safety and health – the two most important areas for such gatherings.

Interestingly, they contract personnel to take charge of various disciplines of production but neglect reaching out to Safety and Health officials.

For years, patrons have always been waltzing in and out of events, oblivious of any safety or health arrangements made for them at such venues. It’s always fun until disaster strikes!

Alarming Situation:

There are so many risks at venues that house music concerts, movie screening, night clubs, theater, and many others – risks that stare us in the face every time we step into such facilities.

The unavailability of enough entry and exit points, live wires scattered at the foyer, near the entrance and on the stage are all risks.

Fire and fireworks hazards, suffocation risks due to lack of ventilation or over-crowding, unruly spectators, tripping hazards and the lack of illumination on the steps at places like the National Theater and the Conference Center are other risks.

 Causes of Stampede

Although officials of Zylofon Music have ruled out any pursuit of investigations on matters that arose at the concert, it is evident that, the climbing of technical installations by over-zealous fans could have triggered one incident to another – and culminated in a stampede.

Research including one conducted by the John Hopkins Magazine, depicts that most stampedes are simply caused by panic and it goes on to suggest that; human psychology undergoes a change when people are forced into tight spaces, and when put under such pressure, crowds tend to move as one and ignore alternate exits, accelerating the possibility of disaster. Many of those who die in stampedes perish standing up – crushed and unable to breathe.

Truth be told, the ‘Ashaiman To The World’ registered impressive numbers (Kudos to the organizers) – and very high number of attendants at a concert has also been cited as one major cause of stampede in many of the deadliest crowd-related incidents in the world.

Way Forward:

To ensure safety and security at event venues and to avert any future eventualities, mechanisms must be put in place to ensure the safety and security of patrons and properties.

Event organizers must collaborate effectively with organizations such as the Ghana Police, the Ghana Fire Service, Ghana Health Services and the Ambulance Services in ensuring that safety, health and security are not compromised.

Before the start of any event, it must be mandatory for organizers to give patrons a safety brief on where to find exit points, where to get first aid and the steps to be taken in case of fire, injury, stampede, etc.

Fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, and other safety equipment deemed necessary must be kept within easy access of people and in the vicinity of the hazard points. The entry and exit routes must be clearly identified and should be spacious enough to accommodate the flow of the expected crowd.

The contact numbers of the fire department, police station, and hospital should be available with all crew members, just in case.

Pictures: pulse.com.ng/Kwabena Awuku

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