Following the spate of gas explosions in recent times and government’s decision to regulate sale of cooking gas in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), TARKAA DAVID writes on the need for a proper approach.
Recently, cooking gas explosion has become a recurring phenomenon in parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The latest of this development occurred in Zuba community in Gwagwalada area council, where a cooking cylinder gas exploded. According to reports, at least three persons were confirmed dead by the explosion, while two others sustained various levels of injuries in the community recently. The deceased were the gas seller, a customer, who brought the gas for refill and another person, standing by. An eyewitness account said that the explosion occurred when the customer came to refill the gas and as they were trying to refill the gas, they noticed an error in the filling.
But before the seller could figure out the fault, there was an explosion from the gas cylinder, which killed both the seller and the customer, including another person at the shop.
Same incident took place in Jahi 2 village of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), where residents were thrown into mourning following a gas disaster that destroyed properties worth millions of naira. These residents will not forget in a hurry the pains and anguish that have compounded the economic hardship of many households. The gas shop, where residents usually refill their gas cylinders is located close to the only government primary school in the village. It is also surrounded by residential buildings and shops for various commercial activities.
Eye witnesses gave different accounts of the incident; others alleged that the explosion occurred when one of the gas cylinders that were sitting on the top of other ones fell off to the ground. This was countered by other accounts which claimed that it exploded when an unidentified passerby dropped a used stick of cigarette close to one of the gas cylinders.
Though no life was lost at the Jahi explosion, not fewer than 10 people were injured; several buildings in the vicinity were also burnt down. It was gathered that five cars and 15 motorcycles as well as other properties that were destroyed by the fire.
Speaking on the incident, the traditional ruler of the community, HRH Salihu Ibrahim, applauded the rapid responses of the emergency team, which he said helped to save the village from more losses. He said that eight fire fighters tanker were mobilized to attack the fire.
“We cannot really say exactly what caused the fire. What I was told was that there was a big blast at the shop where they sell gas. The explosion came with fire that started burning houses around the place. No life was lost, but many people got injured. Many people lost their properties to the fire. Those who were injured in the process have been rushed to the hospital”, he said.
In his own wisdom, the traditional ruler had ordered that nobody should sell gas inside the village. According to him, that is one safety measures that is within the reach of the residents, and he shall be committed to enforcing it.
Worried by this disaster, the chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Hon Abdullahi Adamu Candido said that the council would regulate the sale of domestic gas in the council as part of precautionary measures against incidents of explosion. Candido made this decision when he visited victims of the Jahi 2 fire incident and other stakeholders.
To this end, the council has set up a committee to study how gas and its accessories are to be displayed and sold in the area especially suburbs and rural communities. He said that by the time the committee submits its findings and report, the council would come up with the government white paper that would enable it to take a decision to guide against its reoccurrence in the future.
“I have already put in place a committee to study how gas and its accessories are being displayed and sold in our locality, so that we guard against what has happened here. There are specific areas that gas and its accessories are supposed to be sold. They must never be within the community.
And so at the end of the committee findings and report submitted, we will be able to come up with Government White paper on what the Council will take as a decision to guide against its reoccurrence,” Candido affirmed.
In a similar vein, the chairman of Gwagwalada area council, Hon Mustapha Adamu Danze, has banned the indiscriminate display and sales of cooking gas in public places within the area council. Danze, who ordered the ban, while reacting to the recent Zuba gas explosion, said that the council it would liaise with security agents to stop the sale of the commodity, within the council, to avert future occurrences.
The chairman added that the council is taking necessary measures to ensure that cooking gas business is no longer carried out in overcrowded areas to avoid disaster, explaining that the council would also embark on a sensitization campaign on the dangers of gas explosion, just as he warned those involved in cooking gas business to desist from indiscriminate selling of the commodity in public places.
A gas retailer, Justice, Obinna told LEADERSHIP that the explosions are caused by people who join the business without proper knowledge and caution. He stated that gas is a dangerous product that should be sold in places that are not populated by people. He disclosed that the location for citting gas plant is not regulated leading to indiscriminate citting of gas plants and gas refilling outlets.
According to him, “If Nigeria is to move beyond the cycle of needless deaths and property damage caused by gas explosions, safety regulations must be enforced much more strictly than they have been so far. A comprehensive survey of all gas-dispensing installations, stations and shops in the country must be carried out without delay, and those that are found to have breached established safety requirements should be closed down until they meet them.
The location of gas businesses in densely-populated areas must be discouraged. In this regard, the town-planning edicts which are supposed to manage such issues must be strictly enforced. Where disaster occurs as a result of proven negligence, the culprits concerned must be sanctioned to the fullest extent of the law.”
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