By OLASUNKANMI AKONI & MONSURU OLOWOOPEJO
AS Lagos residents anxiously awaiting for another Yuletide season, sellers of fireworks and other mild explosives, otherwise known as bangers, commonly used during the period have started displaying their wares in some parts of the state. This inspite of the ban placed on unauthorized importation, distribution and sale of the product.
Sources said that despite last year’s explosions, traders haven’t stopped the importation of fireworks into the country. And that the quantity of explosives hasn’t reduced , rather, the quantity in the month of December has increased.
At the weekend, Vanguard gathered that several locked-up shops and warehouses on Mosalasi, Dosunmu, Oroyinyin, Obun Eko streets, are now stocked with various firecrackers. Even on these streets, the explosives are now displayed openly for prospective buyers. They carry price tags ranging from N350 for two bangs, three bangs for N450, N650 for five bangs, among others.
Speaking to Vanguard, one Mr. Jahmal, a firecracker trader said; “we have the fireworks in large quantity if you are ready to buy, we will provide whatever quantity you need. It is available.”
Mr. Slyvanus Ibiwere, A trader appealed to the state government to urgently issue a white-paper to restrict the sale of fireworks in the state.
“Look at me, I have two shops before the explosion last year but now all I have only a makeshift shop. And if the government doesn’t control the sale, storage and use of fireworks in the state, anything can happen again.”
December 26th last year , a boxing day, fireworks stored in inappropriate warehouses, suddenly exploded in Lagos Island. The incident, which affected three buildings located at Okoya/Ojogiwa, occurred at about 8:00am. The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, confirmed the death of one person, while 40 others sustained minor injuries.
Subsequently, Governor Babatunde Fashola, set up a Tribunal of Inquiry into the incident with the aim of forestalling future occurrence. The tribunal had since submitted its recommendations which the governor assured residents of speedy implementation.
Part of the recommendations include: That the state government should legislate a new law that will control the storage and use of fireworks within the state to forestall future occurrence. The law should also specify the date and location where fireworks can be used.
Announcing the restriction on the sales of the product last month, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ade Ipaye, stated: “The state government will not compromise the safety and security of the good people of Lagos on the altar of commerce or celebration. People engaged in the business must therefore ensure that there is full compliance with the provisions of all applicable legislation.
“What is commonly regarded as fireworks (and colloquially as bangers’) is in fact ‘explosives’ within the meaning of the Explosives Act.
“To start with, fireworks is a controlled item and therefore no person can import,manufacture, possess, or use, buy, sell or convey the same without complying with the law.”
He cited the Explosives Act and the Explosives Regulations, which states that every person who is engaged in handling or use of fireworks must take due precautions for the prevention of accident by fire or explosion and must also prevent unauthorized persons having access to the substance. People in the vicinity of explosive materials must also prevent others from doing so. Island, Ikeja, Ikotun among others.
White paper will be out soon, LASG: Responding to government’s delay in rolling out laws that will control importation and sale of explosives in Lagos state, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba, said; “We don’t like last year’s explosion and we don’t want a repeat of it. It isn’t our prayer that residents of Lagos die and lose their property at the end of every year. But the people have to understand that they shouldn’t engage in businesses that endanger other residents.”
Ibirogba added “The committee has submitted its report and the government will issue a white paper on the use of firecracker in the state very soon and when it is out, residents the stand of the government will become clear.”