Lagos tanker fire: Stakeholders want tank farms relocated

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By OLASUNKANMI AKONI, BOSE ADELAJA & MONSUR OLOWOPEJO

LAGOS — Victims of last Tuesday’s inferno in Apapa area of Lagos State where 15 people were burnt to death, have called on the government to relocate the fuel tank farms from their present location in Apapa, saying the number of casualties arising from tanker-related accidents in the area was on the increase.

Also, the victims want the government to assist them get back on their businesses.

A victim, Mr. Daniel Apere, lamented that he lost goods worth more than N5 million to the inferno.

“I don’t know where to start from, I watched all my life earnings totalling more than N5 million being consumed by the raging fire. Also, my elder brother lost over N30 million to the fire.”

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Apere appealed to the Federal Government to relocate the tank farms from Apapa, saying: “The number of casualties from tanker-related accidents is increasing daily, as a result the tank farms should be removed from Apapa and environs.’’

It would be recalled that Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, while assessing the extent of damage caused by the explosion at the MRS tank farm, last year, urged the Federal Government, in the interest of the masses, to relocate the tank farms from the area.

Another victim, Collins Okafor, said: “All my goods were completely burnt and I could not salvage anything. For the past four months, we have been experiencing fire disasters around here but this is the greatest of all. An orange seller lost her son to the inferno and she also got burnt in the process, in her bid to rescue her son.”

Mr. Oke Udeagbara, President of the Berger Business Community, lamented the loss of his members. He said: “The loss was unimaginable. We lost over N1 billion on that day. One can imagine all the shops loaded with engines and the least of the truck engines costs N800,000. The explosion occurred at a time some of our members had just stocked their shops with new arrivals.’’

Mr. Moses Okolie, chairman, Board of Trustees of the traders, said five of the traders who had rushed to the scene to salvage their property were injured in the process.

Mr. Arinze Okolie, manager, Berger Suya car park, said: “The fire started at about 10:00 pm and immediately spread to nearby buildings, burning several people to death.”

Okolie, who attributed the incident to negligence on the part of the tanker driver, said: “The fuel-laden tanker experienced brake failure and rammed into the Police post at the bus stop. Its content spilled  on the road caught fire. The driver should have checked the brake system and other parts of the vehicle before setting out on the journey.’’

Govt should rehabilitate our roads —Residents

Residents of Osho Drive, the closest community to the scene of the incident, yesterday, expressed disappointment with the state of Kirikiri-Ajegunle road and called on government to rehabilitate its and save them from incessant tragedies.

Chairman, Osho Drive Community Development Association, Mr. Nwogu Emmanuel, who spoke to Vanguard said the road was an eyesore.

He said: “May I state categorically that the tragedy was aggravated by the bad road. The tanker driver would have been able to handle the situation if not for the deplorable condition of the road. The bus-stop is prone to gridlocks as a result of the bad road, the number of casualties would have increased if there was gridlock on that day.’’

The CDA chairman, however, affirmed that many of the victims were non-residents of the community.

He said: “Nobody has come to search for their relatives because the victims mostly consist of traders, lotto dealers and suya dealers who come from far away places to transact their businesses in the area.”

Tankers should operate at night —Petroleum dealers

President, Petroleum Dealers Association, Badagry branch, Otunba Adisa Osiefa, said the tankers were causing more havoc than good especially in day time.

He said: “We cannot continue to lose lives on our roads. Tankers are not supposed to be on the road during the day, rather, they should move in the night. I have travelled far and wide and discovered that things like this rarely happen in foreign countries.

“I have told the government on many occasions to restrain tankers from operating during the day. The amount we make on tankers cannot be compared with the number of lives lost each time an explosion occurs on our road.”

Fresh tanker explosion averted

What could have been another petroleum tanker explosion was averted in Lagos, yesterday, through the quick intervention of the state’s fire fighters and men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, who prevented an overturned tanker from igniting fire.

According to an eyewitness, a tanker fully loaded with petrol which registration number was removed, while on transit suddenly overturned in the process of negotiating a bend and spilled the content on the road.

The incident which reportedly occurred at about 1pm at Oke Ajuwon, along Iju-Ishaga road, in Ifako-Ijaiye Local Council Development Area, LCDA, led to traffic congestion as men of the Lagos State fire fighters and LASTMA, who sped to the scene following distress call, kept onlookers and  motorists away from the spot of the incident.

According to Mr Tayo Adewale, a banker in one of the new generation banks in the area, “It is a miracle that the tanker did not burst into flames. But thank God for the quick arrival of LASTMA and fire fighters, it would have been a different story.”

The situation was brought under control few hours later and the tanker was removed from the road.

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