By Ifeanyi Okolie
WHAT could have turned to a major tragedy at Kirikiri area of Lagos State was averted, weekend, as a tanker transporting 33 thousand litres of petroleum product suspect to be kerosene, collapsed and spilled it contents on a major street linking other parts of the area.
Residents who watched the collapse of the truck, said to have loaded its content from an oil depot in the area, took to their heels fearing that it might explode and wreak havoc in the community. Vanguard Metro, VM, gathered that the scene swiftly turned into a Mecca of sorts as some other residents, on realising that the content of the collapsed tranker was kerosene, invaded the scene with jerry-cans and buckets which they used in scooping the kerosene from the tanker.
A resident who simply identified himself as Anayo Osuala told VM that it took the timely intervention of the police from Kirikiri Police Station and some fire servicemen attached to some oil depots, who raced to the scene and chased the residents away.
He said: “The people weren’t aware of the danger associated with what they did. They were lucky no one brought fire close to the scene as that would have led to a major disaster. No one knows how many lives would have been lost. But the police quickly responded to the situation. They chased the residents away, paving way for some fire servicemen to douse the tanker with water and prevent the outbreak of fire.”
Meanwhile, Kirirkiri town, a suburb of Apapa area of Lagos, is currently playing host to five major oil companies in the country. This situation has left several residents of the area and its environs in fear of a possible explosion that could destroy the entire community.
The town which is also housing the nation’s number one prison and a high-grade military facility has suffered several years of neglects and dilapidated infrastructure as roads linking to several parts of the town are in bad shape.
A resident ofCadoso Street,Olakpe Idown, said: “In spite of these huge government facilities situated here, the area lacks government presence. Government has completely forgotten this town; there are no good roads, hospitals, drinkable water and the electricity supply is very poor.
“In fact, this town lacks all the basic amenities to function as a town. People in this town are suffering; government needs to come to their aid. And the oil companies are not helping matters.”
However, a leader of the Kirikiri Community Elders Forum, Chief Babalola Shabi, told VM that the community elders had advised the oil companies on how to prevent a situation like this by creating an alternative route.
He said: “In our meetings with owners of this tank farms, we have advised them to get an alternative route that would link the oil tank farms from the bridge, preventing them from having any contacts with the residential areas. If they buy into this plan, it would stop them from transporting highly inflammable petroleum products through residential areas.
Siphoning of petroleum products
“But while we were waiting on the oil companies to buy into this plan, we discovered that some NUPENG officials are constantly conniving with some tanker drivers to discharge or siphon petroleum products from their tanker trucks after they’ve been loaded at the tank farms.
“This can easily cause a fire outbreak that could be highly dangerous, so, we asked oil companies to get us a towing van that would be used in towing these errant trucks whenever they are seeing doing such but the oil companies are yet to do such.”
Chief Shabbi also said that the community had offered to provide security for oil tanker vessels operating within the Kirikiri water ways and lamented that the oil companies are yet to provide a speed boat that was requested to patrol the water ways. “If you look at the situation, it looks quite dangerous but we can make it safe if only the oil companies would honor our requests and provide the materials we need to keep the area safe.”