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Lagos gas explosion: The morning after

Lagos suffered two gas explosions in two weeks killing 10 and destroying properties worth millions of naira. Adeola Yusuf, in this report, shows how the incessant explosion is fast becoming an hindrance to government’s gas resource optimisation

 

An early morning gas plant explosion, which rocked Lagos last Thursday, killed eight people, burnt and injured 37 others as well as destroyed 25 houses and 16 lock up shops.

 

Director General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr. Olufemi Oke- Osanyintolu, who declared this at the scene of the Baruwa explosion, added that three vehicles and three motorcycles were also razed.

 

This explosion, which occured at a gas station in Baruwa area of the metropolis, came barely two weeks after the Ajuwon Iju Isaga gas explosion that killed more than two and injured 40 people.

 

“Killer gas”

 

According to reports, the explosion occurred around 5.44am at Best Roof Gas Station located at Unity bus stop, Fatade area of Baruwa in Alimoso Local Government Area of the state.

 

“We do not know who dies who lives for now and it will be after the fire is extinguished totally before these can be determined,” an eyewitness had earlier told this online newspaper.

 

The fire started around 5.44am with smoke engulfing the whole of the area, and people were shouting, running helter-skelter,” she added. But Oke-Osanyintolu said that so far, eight bodies (corpses) had been recovered, 10 houses badly razed, three vehicles and Okada also razed. “A lot of those who died were burnt beyond recognition.

 

Some have barely woken up when the disaster occcured while others were trapped while sleeping inside their bedrooms. It is so disheartening to say the least,” Rasaki Akinsanya, who witnessed the explosion, said.

 

NNPC’s admonition, intervention

 

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had warned operators of gas plants and other petroleum product facilities in the country to ensure strict adherence to safety rules and regulations to avoid incidents of explosion.

 

The corporation, which stated this in a statement, commiserated with the government and people of Lagos State, and particularly the residents of Baruwa area, on the gas plant fire incident that ravaged the community in the early hours of Thursday

A press release by the corporation’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, stated that NNPC felt particularly sad at the loss of lives and property, caused by the incident barely a few weeks after a similar incident at Iju Ishaga area of the state.

 

It assured that though NNPC’s pipelines were not anywhere close to the location of the incident, the corporation swiftly mobilised its Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) team, in collaboration with other relevant agencies of Lagos State Government, to ensure that the situation was promptly brought under control.

 

It called on operators of gas plants and other petroleum products facilities in the Country to ensure strict adherence to safety rules and regulations to avoid incidents of this nature and the unnecessary loss of lives and property.

Like Baruwa, like Ajuwon

 

Executive Secretary of Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM), Bassey Essien, gave a report of his association’s findings on the gas explosion happened, which happened at Iju Ishaga three weeks ago in Lagos.

 

“I with some members of my association’s technical committee visited the scene. Had extensive discussion with the owner of the plant and residents around,” he told an e-community of intellectuals, opinion leaders and policy molders on Platforms Africa Forum. “Yes, l can say authoritatively that we are safe.

 

Accidents only occur when safety precautions are not maintained, even medications we take for our wellbeing have mode of usage and if exceeded can be dangerous,” Essien who was the lead duscussant on the forum’s third ediscourse, said. He continued: “The explosion at Iju Ishaga was not attributed to the gas plant as the plant was still intact without any damage.

 

“It was actually an accident from a gas truck in transit, coupled with bad road and am sure with the poor mainfied  tenance nature of the truck by the owners(which is a logistic company). “The owner of the gas plant felt shortchanged in the product quantity he bought and insisted the truck must be reweighed to ascertain the accuracy of the product quantity.

 

“While the truck had left the plant and at an intersection where it’s supposed to enter the major road, the lower part of the truck housing the gas discharge pipes got hooked onto a portion of the road and in the process of the driver trying to get over it, the pipe must have come off at the flanges and the resultant leakage and with combustible materials around (the hot exhaust, gas and air), the explosion ensued and the resultant damage,” he submitted.

 

Development, usage of gas

 

On development and usage of gas as alternative fuel, Essien said “Nigeria is endowed with natural gas, more abundant than crude oil and same apply to most African countries blessed with oil and gas deposits.

 

“With a population of over 200 million in Nigeria alone, cooking with firewood have a devastating effect on the forest, conservation of wildlife and vegetation, health implications and attendant Medicare bills and deaths,climate change etc.

 

Knowing the potential in gas for industrialisation, we must harness the advantages in using gas which is not only for cooking and heating but also for industrial development, power generation, transportation, agriculture, chemical derivatives for industries.

 

“We can only ignore our abundant endowment at our own detriment.

 

“The use of gas as alternative fuel in Africa must be developed and encouraged. It’s the cleanest energy source and cheapest. Gas flaring which has substantial effect on the climate will be drastically reduced if all are collected and processed into gas.

 

 

“There is an advocacy in Nigeria and across the continent for Cooking gas known by professionals as Lique  fied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to serve as a better alternative to firewood, is anything wrong with this? There is nothing wrong with that, in fact gas is the way to go because of its numerous advantages over other cooking fuels.

 

“Advocacy is catching up very well. For example the consumption of gas was about 50,0000metric tons (50,000MT) in 2007 but today consumption in Nigeria has grown up to about 1,000,000MT per annum.

 

“This has been achieved majorly through advocacy and campaign on usage and encouragement of the populace to switch to gas from other low quality cooking fuels with hazardous health implications.

 

“We are equally advocating for government incentives to ensure the appliances households will need for the conversion to gas will be readily affordable by an average household. “We are also creating awareness on safe usage and handling of gas to encourage usage and remove the fear that gas is evil and dangerous.”

 

Avoiding gas explosion, accident Across the continent, gas related incidents and accidents have been reported. According to Essien, the causes of the accidents should be identified to facilitate the solutions.

 

“Causes of accidents are majorly attributed to not doing the right thing, not following standards and procedures, cutting corners to avoid adhering to standards, use of substandard equipments. Poorly trained workforce in gas operations,” the NALPGAM execitive secretary said.

 

“Educating people on the proper ways to handle and use has always is being intensified and the workforce should be constantly trained and ensure adherence to standards safety practices,” he declared. Do gas cylinders have expiry date?

 

How can one know when ones cylinder expires? Here is Essien’s response: “Cylinders have expiry dates. The year of manufacture is always embossed at the neck of the cylinder. In Nigeria, a gas cylinder has a 15 years life span.

 

“You know this by looking at the year of manufacture of the cylinder at the neck of it and add 15 years to that. If a cylinder is produced in 2020, it means the cylinder will expire in 2035.

 

“However before the expiry date, it must be tested every five years to ensure the integrity is intact and also indicated that it has passed the integrity test on each of those five years.”

 

Last line

The incessant explosion has been creating panic in the minds of users. Government and all stakeholders must work together to guarantee people’s safety in order to boost the policy around gas optimisation in the country

 

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