Dinning with death
Dinning with death
By Bisi Olominu
The people of Akure, the capital city of Ondo State are living with death everyday with the way and manner petrol and gas stations are established very near to residential houses.
Akure, like major cities, petrol and gas stations are found in awkward places. A popular station within Cathedral area of the town is tucked between a church and residential houses. Also, one at NEPA area and the recently established petrol station in Alagbaka area is established within the commercial nerve centre of the capital.
What is so glaring is that petrol and gas stations are sited near to public institutions or residential areas and presently the people of the city are living in apprehension.
It would be recalled that a high degree of explosion rocked Arakale area of Akure on December 15,2014 where 45 people sustained serious burnt injuries. The explosion also ravaged all surrounding lock up shops and residential buildings, destroyed goods and properties worth millions of naira.
Information had it that the danger could have been averted if the gas station explosion which burnt a pregnant woman and a 3year old had not been sited in the area.
It would also be recalled that on October 3,2018, a tanker carrying 33,000 litres of petrol fell at Shagari Village junction on the Akure/Owo highway killing five people including a toddler. The tanker after falling spilled it’s content on the road which later caught fire burning no fewer than seven vehicles among which was a commercial bus and six private cars, as well as many motorcycles.
Despite citing of petrol and gas stations unabated in residential areas in Akure, investigation conducted by The Hope revealed that the five monitoring agencies are much concerned about the revenues aspect.
Those agencies are Directorate of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Fire Service, Ministry of Physical Planning, Ministry of Environment, task force and security agency.
A competent source confided in The Hope that only a senile government would not approved an outlet worth N20 million to N100million. The source continued that every government wants development and investment in gas and petrol stations is part of that.
” In the olden days petrol and gas stations were established at the outskirts of the town, but today have been surrounded by gas and patrol stations. Are we now going to demolish the buildings near them? All should co-exist since safety measures have been put in place.
“The state needs both the gas and petrol stations to boost it’s revenue, the houses surrounding them need both for survival and both need the inhabitants to survive. “
A source under condition of anonymity at the state fire service posited that without the five regulating agencies coming into agreement, such station would not be established. The source added that argument ensured between the regulation bodies concerning citing the new petrol station within banks area in Alagbaka, mostly on the safety of banks workers, people in residential houses in the area and importantly being the commercial nerve centre of the capital.
” After much debate, a superior argument prevailed that the new station will not endanger the lives of the people because the Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, done at the petrol station has reduced danger to within the station premises.
“We should not use the incident of 2014 to judge the establishment of new gas station in the capital. Apart from the owner of the burnt shop in Arakale not accredited, he also contravene the law of the land by not registered with the Department of Petroleum Resources”.
Speaking on the issue, the Operation Controller, Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, in Akure, Mr. Oseni Mukaila Adewale allay the fear of the people, stressing that any calamity is restricted to the gas or petrol station premises.
He disclosed that for any gas or petrol station to be established, it must have an approved building plan, fire report, land survey, proof of ownership and environmental impact assessment carried out.
His words:” In the industry, it is safety first. The petrol or gas pump must be five metres to a residential house, milestone activities compulsory for staff, there must pressure text, tank must be buried according to specification, there must be tank calibration and most importantly the Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, is very important and compulsory. “
Adewale however said that citing both should not be near to school, market and must be appreciable distance to welding workshop.
He said further that gas and petrol station must not be near to petrol pipeline, communication mast, railway line and high tension wire.
The Operation Controller said that it would be difficult to retrain investors investing in the state, mostly in the aspect of petroleum and gas stations, stressing that since all necessary assessment have been put in place and all necessary danger put in check, no need for those in residential houses to be afraid.
He maintained that the department is still having issue with those having gas outlets within residential buildings as majority of them are not licensed to operate and have not registered with the department.
” Although this people are covered by category D license, but majority of those operating gas shops within houses are unlicensed. They are operating illegally. What happened at Arakale area of Akure in 2014 was as a result not complying with the order of DPR not to operate.
” This category of people are supposed to be enlightened on what to do. Firstly, they are supposed to register and they should not dispense gas in their shops, rather they should exchange their cylinders with that brought by the customers and not to dispense as they do now.
” But we are presently training them and 109 of them have been under our training. If they must therefore go for the business, they must go for new cylinders for exchange with customers. We have giving them ultimatum to register with us and after the expiration, if nothing concrete come out of them, we will sanction them”.