The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), has called on all its officials to follow international safety regulations when inspecting fuel tankers at terminals, to avoid incidences of tankers’ accidents in Nigeria.
Recall that on Thursday, August 26, 2021, residents of Agara, a community in Etche, Rivers State, were reported to have rushed to scoop diesel spilling from a overturned tanker.
Few hours after the incident, a distress call was made to EnergyDay by a resident of the community about a possible tanker explosion in the community if residents scooping fuel at the scene were not driven away.
David Tomomewo, who made the distress call to one of our reporters, told EnergyDay that residents of the affected community ran to the scene of the incident, falling over one another to scoop fuel spilling from the overturned tanker.
“As the tanker fell this morning, many people rushed down there with bowls, kegs and different containers to take from the diesel pouring out of it.
“Since morning, nobody has come to help us. We are asking them to leave there, but they have refused to. They are less concerned about the safety of their lives,” he said.
David pleaded with this medium to contact the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to come to their aid before the situation got out of hand.
“Please, help us talk to the Rivers State government and the NEMA to come and help us before it gets out of hand,” he lamented.
Efforts by EnergyDay to reach the Port Harcourt office of NEMA when he called, was fruitless as calls made to their lines were not answered.
One Mr Umesi Emenike, an official of NEMA, told our correspondent that he did not have the contact of an official in its Port Harcourt office which he could give out.
Recently, EnergyDay had a chat with Mr. Salisu Umar Galadunci, the Rivers State Sector Commander of the FRSC.
When asked for update on the Agara incident, he said he could not respond to that as the community is a remote community not under his command.
“That community is not actually under our command, so I can’t answer to that as I have gotten no reports on the said incident,” he said.
He, however, said he had been advising his colleagues in other commands to ensure that they always follow international safety guidelines, before allowing tankers conveying fuel to move onto the roads.
“Here in the Rivers State Command, we try to comply with the Tanker Safety Guide of International Maritime Organisation, a United Nations organisation which develops safety guidelines for both ships and tankers.
“We make sure all fuel tankers, right from the terminals, are thoroughly checked for safety compliance before they can move into the roads.
“So, I will advise every other command to ensure they follow these safety guidelines, in order to avert future occurrences of overturned fuel tankers,” Mr. Umar said.
In 2012, in the same River State, more than 90 people lost their lives in a deadly petrol tanker explosion while attempting to collect fuel from an overturned tanker, in Okogbe community.
It was reported that five buses and many motorbikes were razed by the fire. The outbreak also affected a part of a nearby filling station. Eyewitnesses attested to the fact that the people of community defiantly rushed down to the scene of the incident, amidst warnings from others,not to do so. They went ahead to collect fuel spilling from the tanker.
Also, on July 22, 2020, about 10 people were reported dead in a petrol tanker explosion, in Delta State.
The incident which took place around 11 a.m at Koko Junction, along the Benin-Sapele Expressway, burnt about three persons beyond recognition, according to police officers who were present at the scene of the tragic accident.
Eyewitnesses claimed to have seen several people with containers rushing to the scene of the incident to scoop fuel.
The fire reportedly destroyed more than 10 vehicles.
On October 6, 2020, residents of Igborosun in Badagry area of Lagos scooped fuel from fallen petrol tanker, despite the presence of security operatives at the scene.
Although, no casualty was recorded due to the timely intervention of the LASEMA, the Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Dr Olufemi Oke Osanyintolu, warned the general public to refrain from collecting fuel from scenes of fallen tankers as their action could lead to a tragic incident.
An official of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) who was contacted by EnergyDay to react to the worrying situation befalling its members, especially the recent one at Etche, pleaded that he is not available to respond to any issue at the moment as he was presently at an emergency meeting.
He, however, promised to be available before the end of the week.
EnergyDay was unable to get the reaction of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) on what should be done by safety agencies to avert future occurrences , as calls made to its official line were not answered.