The rising cases of infernos from fuel tanker accidents and attendant loss of lives and property in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria are cause for serious concern.
However, to stem the tide, the authorities including the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), regulating the oil and gas industry, said they are rising up to the occasion.
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In the first quarter of 2021, there have been several of the accidents in Lagos including that of Saturday March 27, 2021.
The Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, confirmed that the 33,000 litres petrol-laden tanker collided with a truck at the Berger axis and exploded into a flame.
On January 6, a petrol tanker exploded at Toyota Bus Stop along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway after it disconnected from its turntable head due to reckless driving, said LASEMA.
“The impact of the collision with the ground resulted in the spark and subsequent explosion,” he said.
Lives have continued to be lost to such mishaps. On July 23, 2020, a tanker accident on the Benin-Sapele-Warri highway at Koko Junction killed about 20 persons and burnt 10 vehicles.
On September 23, 2020, the DG of LASEMA, Dr Oke-Osanyintolu, confirmed that 30 adults were injured, 23 buildings and 15 vehicles destroyed by a tanker explosion in the Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos. Several properties including buildings were also lost, the post-disaster assessment revealed.
Similarly, five houses and 49 shops were gutted by fire in an explosion that occurred at Lambata town, Gawu Babangida LGA of Niger State on Sunday night on September 7, 2020 when a tanker loaded with 36,000 litres of PMS collided with a trailer.
To address this menace, the Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Sarki Auwalu, in an exclusive chat with Daily Trust, said: “Recently we said every tanker must have the safety valve.
“With tanker incidents it is the fuel that will now tilt, come out and ‘boom’ there is fire. So now it is compulsory that every tanker must have a safety valve. It is a no return valve in which when the tank is filled up, the product cannot really open and you cannot siphon from the tank and the discharge point also has no return valve. You can only use a lock for the valve to open it.”
Auwalu said 95 per cent of all the major marketers have fitted their tankers with safety valves. “The big issue is the independent marketers. We gave them a final date which was February 28. But when we started implementation, we saw queues everywhere. The queues returned to Abuja and Lagos at the end of February.”
He said: “When we realized that they need some time and they need to import it from abroad, and it may create unnecessary scarcity, we relaxed a bit.”
He further explained that the department has identified the source of the safety valve and is working with the respective unions to bring this safety valve into the country.
Auwalu said: “The compliance is like 20% before February, but with the measures we took using their union to get the safety valve; I can tell you that from March 1, we recorded 47% compliance.
So we are tracking them to make sure, when that happens, I can assure you that tanker accidents will grossly reduce; even if it fell, the product will not spill, because we realise that it’s the product spill that is creating that havoc.”
Apart from DPR, stakeholders are also concerned about this menace. For instance, a former president of the Risk Managers Society of Nigeria (RIMSON), Jacob Adeosun, called for prompt and decisive action to address the catastrophic disasters periodically inflicted on Nigerians whenever petrol tanker accidents occur.
“The development is worrisome, especially on account of the irreplaceable loss of innocent lives, and the injured who may remain deformed for life, and many who are suddenly stripped of their livelihoods as a result of the loss of their hard-earned properties (houses, shops, vehicles).”