The nation witnessed a monumental tragedy last Sunday in Lagos when a gas explosion at Abule- Ado in Amuwo-Odofin Local Government area, of the state led to the death of no fewer than 20 persons and destruction of about 100 houses.
Director-General of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, who gave preliminary reports on Sunday said at least 17 bodies were recovered, while 25 casualties were being treated for injuries from the explosion. That was not all. Scores of residents, including school children, who were trapped were later rescued in buildings as the explosion shook the area.
According to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the incident occurred after a truck hit some gas cylinders stacked in a gas processing plant located near the Corporation’s System 2B Pipeline Right of Way. Among early visitors to the scene of the incident were the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy Obafemi Hamzat who were at the place on Monday. The governor later announced a trust fund of N2billion to treat emergencies and other issues related to the tragedy. The Governor appealed to governments and well-meaning Nigerians to come to the support of Lagos in its time of distress. Nigerians are not known to abandon their own in times of needs and crises. It is in response to this that the Senate, on Tuesday in Abuja urged the Federal Government and members of the National Assembly to donate to the N2 billion ”Abule -Ado Emergency Relief Fund” set up by Lagos State government. This was one of the resolutions of the Senate after deliberation on a motion on the urgent need to investigate the Abule-Ado explosion.
The state Governor while setting up the N2 billion relief fund said the state was immediately putting N250 million into the fund.
Leading the motion at the Senate on Tuesday, Adeola Olamilekan (APC, Lagos) recalled that there had been similar explosions on a number of occasions in the last couple of years in the same area.
He said Nigerians around the axis now live in “justifiable fear” of not only losing their lives but also their properties and investments. He also commended security agencies and Nigerians on their prompt roles in putting out the fire resulting from the explosion and mitigating its spread as well as in rescuing victims. Lawmakers who took turns to mourn the victims and called for support for the State included Oluremi Tinubu, James Manager and Ibikunle Amosun.The lawmakers later observed a minute silence in honour of victims who died from the incident and resolved to write a condolence letter to the people and government of Lagos State on the tragedy.The Senate also directed the National Emergency Management Agency and Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to immediately send relief materials to the victims and offset medical bills of those among them in hospital. It directed the Senate Committees on Petroleum Downstream, Gas Resources and Petroleum Upstream to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the explosion with a view to preventing a re-occurrence and report back to the Senate accordingly. While we commend the Senate for its concern and resolution on the Abule-Ado gas explosion, we note with regret that most of the safety measures suggested by government and other agencies previously have not always been adhered to. Preliminary reports on the last Sunday accident attribute it to a truck which hit gas installations that ignited the explosion, This is unfortunate because for umpteenth time truck drivers as a result of their careless driving caused accidents and deaths on the nation’s roads and cities with their heavy vehicles just as it occurred in Onitsha, Anambra state towards the end of last year. The need to take stiffer measures to regulate the operations and movements of truck becomes imperative at this point in the nation’s history to save it from losing more lives.
What is more there is also the need to regulate the gas and other inflammable installations outside residential areas to avoid casualties in event of accidents. The NNPC and the respective government agencies have great roles to play in this regard to save the nation from avoidable loss of lives and properties.
While commiserating with the government and people of Lagos State over the unfortunate incident, we wish to appeal to all tiers of governments, agencies and corporate bodies to donate to the Trust Fund set up by Lagos State government to address cases arising from the gas explosion.