The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has revealed that at least one death was recorded every four days in the course of trucking petroleum products from loading depots to filling stations, with 412 fatalities in 244 accidents between 2018 and the first quarter of 2023.
This was disclosed by the NMDPRA during stakeholders’ Engagement on Safety in Downstream Operations, attended by members of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMAN), Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), and the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) to enforce compliance with relevant Health, Safety and Environment laws and Regulations as stipulated in the Petroluem Industry Act(PIA), in Abuja on Wednesday.
Dr Mustapha Lamorde, NMDPRA, Executive Director of Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC), while making his presentation said that the Authority will soon recommence technical safety audit of petrol retail outlets, tankers, refining facilities and depots operations nationwide to halt rising accidents’ cases.
According to him, it is imperative for operators and all the relevant stakeholders to work toward halting the cases of deaths.
Lamorde, who was represented by Mrs Maijiddah Abdulkadir, North Central Regional Coordinator, NMDPRA, further hinted that petroleum products retail outlets took the lion’s share of accidents and fatalities during the period with 39 per cent.
He said that this was followed by tankers, refining facilities and gas facilities which shared 13 per cent each and depot accidents with 11 per cent.
He said that the engagement was to call for a sound management of safety in the transportation of petroleum products operations in the downstream sector.
He said that the proper approach to achieve this was to ensure that HSE was managed from a business perspective and not for compliance purposes only.
He noted that safety-related matters should be integrated into the management decision-making process.
He added that the NMDPRA would continue to attune operators to the need to fully comply with relevant safety laws and regulations as stipulated in the Petroleum Industry Act.
In addition, the executive director said that this would forestall the dangers or risks posed by unwholesome practices and noncompliance to statutory provisions with respect to safety in the transportation of petroleum products.
“The NMDPRA has planned to recommence the HSE technical audits; of which the outcome will be used in liaison with other directorates, in the issuance of various licenses.
“The HSE technical audit will evaluate the adequacy of the HSE requirements, competency and training of staff engaged by the operators.
“This will no longer be business as usual, it is now safety first. The NMDPRA would ensure that the aspiration of the Federal Government in passing the PIA is achieved.
“The law has provided in clear terms that in the case of negligence by any operator, such operator would be sanctioned accordingly,” he said.
According to him, the aim of the engagement is not necessarily to sanction the operators but to ensure that operations are run in a safe manner to protect people, assets and the environment.
The executive director said health and safety needed to be a front burner to attract the growth of the business, reduction of insurance premiums and protection of the public.
“For us to achieve the following, we must reawaken the safety consciousness in our operations,” he added.
In a presentation, Mr Ugochukwu Okpara, NMDPRA’s Head of HSE, North Central Region, listed the concerns and risks during operational activities like discharging or dispensing to include, not allowing the trucks to settle before beginning of discharge.
He also listed failure to ground the truck, discharging during high temperatures, carrying out maintenance work on the truck while discharging as well as discharging and dispensing simultaneously as some of the causes of fires in filling stations.
Okpara added that leaks on the truck, disorderly queues, lack of safety awareness by pump attendants, use of mobile phones, vehicle maintenance around the area and lack of firefighting equipment could cause serious damage.
Okpara urged stakeholders to stop kick-starting motorcycles around the dispensing area, smoking, and dispensing while the vehicle engine is on.
For tanker accidents and incidents, he listed inadequate training for drivers and handling of vehicles to motor boys, poor truck and hose integrity as well as lack of grounding, among others as being some of the causative factors
Many of the stakeholders drawn from states, however, commended the meeting and urged the Federal Government to fix major roads in the country to minimise the frequency of tanker accidents.
They also appealed for a halt to sales of fake tyres and other vehicle parts in circulation across the country, to prevent loss of lives and properties.