By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA— MOVED by cases of fuel tanker tragedies across the country, which have led to loss of lives and property, Senate yesterday summoned the management of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to appear before it to explain the state of the nation’s refineries.
The Senate has also urged the Federal Government to revamp the existing refineries as well as create the enabling environment for private refineries, just as it asked the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, to organise regular training for tanker drivers to reduce, to the barest minimal, the rate of tanker tragedies on the country’s highways.
These were some of the resolutions reached by senators during contributions to a motion by Senator Gbenga Ashafa, Lagos East, on fuel tanker tragedies at yesterday’s plenary session.
According to the Senate, “NNPC will be summoned to come and give account of the state of our refineries and all such structures and Federal Government must create the enabling environment for private refineries to be established and thrive.”
The motion, according to Senator Ashafa, was co- sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Lagos Central; Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Abia South; Senator Philip Aduda, FCT; Senator Isiaka Adeleke, Osun West; Senator Adeola Solomon Olamilekan, Lagos West and Senator Bukola Saraki.
A minute of silence
The senators, who observed one minute silence in honour of those that have lost their lives in tanker accidents across the country, said the spate of fuel tanker explosion on the highways was getting serious by the day and once again raising the questions about what had become of the rail-line projects of past administrations as an alternative route to Nigerian highways.
According to the senators, within the space of one week, four fuel tankers accident occurred in Nigeria’s two major cities, claiming lives and destroying property.
They cited the Onitsha case, which claimed over 70 lives at Upper Iweka, the commercial nerve centre of Anambra State and that while the inferno raged, men of the fire service arrived late at the scene.
In his contribution, Senate President, Bukola Saraki described the motion as timely and germane as it concerns loss of lives and property.
He stressed that it had become imperative for the Federal Government to create the enabling environment for the private sector to key into establishment of refineries as it would help to address the problems associated with the oil sector.
Senator Saraki, however, said if the problem must be solved, the downstream sector which comprises NNPC, refineries, among others must be deregulated.
Earlier in the motion entitled Tanker Tragedies on Nigeria’s Highways, Senator Gbenga Ashafa had said that the Senate, “notes with serious concern the spate of fuel tanker explosions on our highways, which is getting curious by the day and once again raising the questions about what has become of the rail line projects of past administrations as an alternative route to Nigerian highways.”