By Olasukonmi Akanmi
Chief Executive Officer of Lagos State Emergency Agency, LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, in this interview, explains how the agency is battling the menace posed by fuel tankers.
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Lagos State is experiencing frequent fuel tanker fire accidents. How is LASEMA ensuring the safety of residents in the face of this?
Lagos is a cosmopolitan state that is business-friendly. If you look at the history of road accidents that involved articulated vehicles, you will discover that many were avoidable. The accidents are man-made. 90 percent of the investigation we carried out showed that brake failure is one of the major causes of the accidents.
Some of the drivers are under the influence of hard substances. These are the main causes of road accidents involving tankers in the state.
What are the safety standards you have for fuel tankers because bad roads are often blamed?
It is not about bad roads. On bad roads, our governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu is already fixing the roads. Now, for emphases, the main causes of road accidents involving tankers are human errors. Apart from the substances the drivers take, they do not maintain their vehicles properly. These are the causes we found out from all the investigations we carried out.
After carrying out investigations, we tell the public the main causes of accidents involving articulated vehicles. LASEMA will be having a stakeholders’ meeting with Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, on the need to start checking the mental fitness of drivers. Some of them are often under the influence of drugs. We will soon embark on the enforcement of breathing and gas tests for the drivers.
LASEMA under the leadership of Governor Sanwo-Olu has been repositioned. Today, we have what we call, early warning response mechanism department. And we are strengthening our local emergency management committees in the grassroots. With the local emergency management committees in each of the Lagos State, the early warning mechanism would be effective and efficient.
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How many fuel tanker accidents have you recorded since January this year?
I will say that we have recorded more than 100 cases. It became more rampant from June till date. There was a time we transloaded about 33,000 litres of fuel. After that day, we transloaded about 45 ,000 litres of petrol at the same spot. If we had left all the 33,000 litres of petrol unattended, you can imagine the devastating effect it could have caused. We must be vigilant, swift, effective and efficient in our response.