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Guiding against explosions

By Maria Famakinwa

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Losing innocent lives to explosions across the country is becoming worrisome especially giving the fact that most of it are avoidable. Not only are they recurring, these explosions have inflicted pains, physical injuries and psychological trauma on lucky survivors as some did not live to tell their tales. To say that the recurring incidence of explosions have become serious issues on the country is to say the least. If it is not tanker explosion today, it will be gas explosion or explosion that occurs due to illegal possession of explosive devices.

In January this year, a deadly blast rocked the Nigerian city of Ibadan overnight which was caused by explosives stored by illegal miners, killing two people and  injured 77 others with many people rendered homeless. Last month came another reported case of tanker explosion in Rivers State where five people were killed with 120 vehicles burnt to ashes. It was also reported early this month that seven people lost their lives in petrol tanker explosion in Warri-Sapele expressway, at Ometan community, Okpe Local Government Area, Delta State. According to report, the trailer dismembered on the road after the tank body separated from the truck head and the impact of the crash triggered a massive fire. Weeks ago in Abeokuta, Ogun State, four people were burnt to death while two others sustained injuries as gas tanker exploded. The explosion also burnt about five vehicles.

 Another gas incident was reported at Apapa area of Lagos state during which a pregnant woman and others suffered varying degrees of injuries. The explosion was reportedly triggered by a suspected gas leakage. The list is endless as a month will hardly end without one incident of explosion or the other.

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Some citizens who spoke with The Hope on the issue expressed serious concern over the increasing rate of avoidable explosions in the country and called on relevant authorities to expedite actions in order to prevent further loss of lives to deaths related to explosions in the country.

An engineer, Mr Bello Uwah, explained that explosions have become very tragic accidents in Nigeria that when it happens, many families mourn, take, for instance, the recent explosions in Rivers State and Delta State. It is only the affected families that can tell how painful it is to lose loved ones in such avoidable deaths.

 He said: “ There is a need to examine the causes of explosions and how best it could be handled to avoid further burns and loss of lives. Take that of gas explosion for example, it is wrong to have gas stations within residential areas like is the case in many places which I blame government for not implementing laws made against siting of gas in residential areas. Do you know that most people into the business don’t have the expert knowledge on ways to handle gas, and household users equally use gas with lackadaisical attitudes and poor maintenance culture. It was also discovered that state governments don’t stick to the master plan of their respective states and that is why people construct gas plant stations just about anywhere they find space. I wish our government prioritised safety of the people by arresting any gas selling shop within residential areas to serve as a deterrent to others.”

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The man also warned against overfilling of cooking gas cylinder. According to him, It is unsafe to fill cooking gas tank beyond 90% of its total storage capacity, if propane (which has a higher pressure) has a higher proportion in the LPG mixture. He said: “Overfilling gas cylinder will trigger the tank’s pressure relief valve to pop open (if it has one) and cause a release of cooking gas. If there’s any source of ignition near-by, a fire incident might be the inevitable outcome. Worse still, if the LPG storage tank is not equipped with a pressure relief valve and the tank is of inferior quality or has expired, the tank might explode or rupture with catastrophic consequences.

“To reduce the increasing regularity of gas explosions and the attendant dangers to lives and property in Nigeria, it is important to step up advocacy on the danger of using mobile phones whenever people are within the vicinity of gas facilities. We also urge the relevant authorities to conduct regular drills in markets and other public buildings on safety measures regarding the commodity. That is the only way we will not continue to harvest tragic but avoidable deaths in the country.

In the submission of a tanker driver, Mr Olarenwaju Ajirola, explained that most tanker accidents are avoidable if the roads are in good shapes. He also stressed the importance of regular trainings of tanker drivers against over speeding especially on how to navigate sharp bends to avoid accidents as he appealed to the Federal Government to fix bad roads across the country.

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He said: “The major thing tanker owners in Nigeria need for safe operations is to have the speed limiting device installed in the vehicle, ensure that the safety valves which prevent spillage are fitted in the tankers, ensure adequate training and retraining of drivers, and have onboard cameras in the vehicles to monitor. To avert accidents involving petrol tankers, we must ensure that petroleum tankers do not transport products over a long distance.

“I will equally urge that more petrol depots be built to reduce the distance between depots and service stations; this will go a long way to prevent accidents. There must be a good network of pipelines traversing the states and ensuring that the facilities are well protected from pipeline vandals. The Federal Government can by so doing create employment for our teeming youths who could be engaged to mount surveillance along these routes.

“The Federal Government should also fix our bad roads and keep them safe for motorists. Finally, the Federal Road Safety Corps and other relevant agencies should make it a duty to certify every active tanker roadworthy, and sanction erring drivers and their employers. By so doing, I believe both in the interim and in the long run, petroleum tanker accidents will be averted or at least, reduced to the barest minimum,” he said.

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