Odds against Nigeria sincerely speaking are on the ascendancy and no one knows when these myriad of problems would be addressed permanently for the citizenry to heave sigh of relief. It is no longer news that hardly would any week pass without recording ugly incident of either gas or tanker explosion, and each time it occurs, it leaves on its trail, sorrows and agonies of indescribable magnitude as many families have been closed and those who were lucky to escape death, are rendered permanently deformed, owing to no cause of their own.
For example, more than 60 people in 2015, were killed due to tanker accident that occurred in Anambra state. The story of Abule Ado in the Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area (LGA), a suburb of Lagos, along Badagry Expressway, which took place on 15 March, 2020, where also a whole community was sacked and many lost their lives as a result of explosion, linked to a tanker driver who lost control of his vehicle, left unimaginable destruction of lives and properties when the dust settled, is still fresh in the minds of every one. Since that time, many more carnages close to that proportion have continued to rock various states in Nigeria, leaving the citizens wondering when this orgy of wanton destruction would be addressed by the authorities concerned. Just recently, precisely September 24, 2020, another tanker laden with petroleum product exploded in Lokoja, Kogi state, killing no fewer than 30 persons.
The incident occurred on Lokoja-Abuja highway after a petrol tanker loaded with Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), lost control and rammed into five vehicles, three tricycles and two motorbike, popularly called okada. The carnage was better imagined than real as many vehicles, properties and other valuables were completely destroyed. Sadly too on the September 25, 2020, yet another gas explosion took place in Iju–Ishaga area of Lagos where scores of people were also wounded apart from 23 houses completely razed down, excluding cars and other valuables.
The list is legion as many Nigerians are now skeptical and apprehensive on sighting tankers laden with petroleum products. Regrettably, each time this kind of accident occurs, the same old story of late arrival of fire fighters, shortage of water to put off the fire, challenge to access the scene of the accident, crowd control etcetera often is the story we hear from eye witness accounts. Surprisingly, no step has been taken by the authority concerned across the states to permanently address this unfortunate development that is almost becoming a national problem.
The movement of petroleum motor spirit (PMS), and other highly inflammable substances in other climes are done either at night or through the pipes. Sixty years after independence, Nigeria is still grappling with things like movement of heavy duty trucks on the road other countries even without the quantity of oil deposits like Nigeria have permanently addressed. Recall that during the administration of former Lagos State governor, the current Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), the Lagos state government enacted a law that prohibited the movement of tankers during the day, but unfortunately the law today is not effective maybe because, the owners of the tankers are the shakers and movers in the society who care less about the lives of the down trodden.
But it’s instructive to mention here that such law should be looked into once again since the law surely would save the lives of ordinary Nigerians considering the number of those sent to their early graves owing to tanker accident across the country. Other states in Nigeria are also equally advised not to treat with levity the menace of tanker accidents also and so come up with measures that would reduce tanker accidents that have become a reccurring decimal in our society.
Expectedly too, the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO), should stand up and perform their statutory functions by impounding rickety driven heavy duty trucks with or without products to reduce the unfortunate tanker and other senseless accidents that usually occur on our high ways and not only concentrating on private vehicles that do not constitute serious danger on the Nigerian roads.
The challenge bedeviling the Nigerian society in fairness is too much to grapple with but this can also be attributed to lack of political will to do the needful which has allowed our problems to fester. The incessant of road accidents occasioned by tanker and gas explosions can be checkmated to the barest minimum by ensuring that heavy trucks that are not road worthy are not allowed to ply the roads and to also discourage the idea of siting both filling stations and gas stations close to residential areas as it’s the case in Lagos and other cosmopolitan cities across the country.
It is also expected that the Federal Road Safety Commission and other security agencies tasked with the control and regulation of transport operators within the country should stand up and protect Nigerians from untimely deaths, occasioned by tanker fire. There is need for the FRSC to be properly empowered to carry out its function of nipping these accidents in the bud before they occur, by either compelling the tanker drivers and owners of these articulated vehicle to adhere to the safety rules.