The gas explosion at the OPIC Plaza, Ikeja, Lagos was avoidable if necessary measures had been taken, says Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun.
He gave the assessment in a chat with newsmen after an on-the-spot assessment of the premises of the Ogun-owned OPIC Plaza in Ikeja on Friday evening, a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, said.
Abiodun, who expressed sadness over the loss of lives and destruction of property caused by the inferno, said promotion of Liquefied Petroleum Gas for domestic use in the country should not be at the expense of the lives of people.
The governor, therefore, called for more safety checks to be put in place for the transport of LPG across the country to check incessant explosions leading to huge loss of lives and wanton destruction of property.
He also urged regulators in the gas and petroleum downstream sector to ensure trucks conveying petroleum products and gas are in good working condition.
Parts of the OPIC Plaza building were razed on Thursday night following explosion by an LPG truck that broke down in front of the plaza.
“We must learn something from this incident, and the first thing is to begin to look at all these trucks carrying petroleum products. How can we ensure they are safe for our roads? Can you imagine if this incident had happened while this truck was in the traffic, a rush hour for that matter? Can you imagine the level of damage and casualty?
“We must sit down with the management of the Department of Petroleum Resources to determine how we can introduce extra safety measures. Yes, we want to promote the penetration of LPG as against the use of kerosene, but we cannot afford to do that at the expense of the safety of human lives. So, my counterpart, Governor Jide Sanwo-Olu (of Lagos State) and I will be having this discussion very soon,” the governor said.
He noted that with the commission fully operational, there would be seamless synergy between Ogun and Lagos on disaster management.
Hinting of a collaboration with Lagos State, he said, “LASEMA and its counterpart in Ogun will both sit down with the Department of Petroleum Resources to determine immediate steps to be taken so as to ensure such incidents don’t happen again.”
Abiodun added, “I personally spoke with the Director-General of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency that we must sit down and think of how we can mitigate similar occurence in future.
“Thankfully, we have a collaboration with Lagos State -the Lagos-Ogun Joint Development Commission – and the issue of safety is also part of the responsibility of that commission. I believe this will fast-track some of its responsibilities.”
The governor, while commiserating with families of victims of the incident, said his administration was yet to account for the total losses from the incident.
“Thirteen people were rescued from here when the incident happened, while three casualties were immediately identified. These 13 people had various degrees of severe burns. Unfortunately, from these number, we also recorded extra five deaths. So, we have in total, as at the last count, eight dead.
“The loss of vehicles at the last count was about 23, that have been burnt probably beyond repairs. I am sure that when it is safe to take account of the losses, we will be able to estimate the total value of what was lost in this premises,” Abiodun added.
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