Teddy Oscar, Abuja
The Senate on Wednesday resolved to probe the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) regarding the inefficiency of the four refineries in the country.
Sequel to this, the NNPC is to appear before the Senate’s relevant committees as soon as they are constituted to account for the states of the existing refineries, as well as encourage private ones.
Consequently, the legislators also urged the Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC) to regularly engage the tanker drivers in training.
These were parts of the amended prayers to the Senator Gbenga Ashafa-sponsored motion entitled: fuel tanker tragedies on Nigeria’s highways.
Earlier, Ashafa, who noted with serious concern the spate of fuel tanker explosions on the nation’s highways, added that the ugly situation raises the question about what has become of the rail line project of the immediate past administration of former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, as alternative routes to highways.
“Within the space of one week, four fuel tanker accidents occurred in Nigeria’s two major cities, claiming lives and destroying properties; the first incident was at Onitsha (the commercial nerve centre of Anambra State), which claimed over 70 lives at Upper Iweka. While the inferno raged, men of the Federal Fire Service (FSS), in their typical nature, arrived late at the scene to extinguish the fire.
“As condolence messages were still being expressed to the victims and their families, another accident occurred in Lagos. Here, another tanker conveying 33,000 litres of petrol exploded at Iyana-Ipaja and injured no fewer than 14 persons, gutting about 21 vehicles and razing down 44 shops.
“As Nigerians were still lamenting the tragedy at Iyana-Ipaja, another occurred at Idimu in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos. The incident destroyed property worth millions of Naira, (while) no fewer than 34 buildings, 70 shops, one tricycle, one truck and other property were consumed by the fire ignited by the fallen petrol-laden tanker.
“All the fuel tankers lifting fuel from the tank farms along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway have done tremendous damage to the highways, causing deaths, pains and gridlocks on the highways. Time has come for government to seek permanent solution instead of temporal palliatives, as fuel tankers from all states in the North, South-East and South-West states (go) to Lagos to lift fuel and besiege the highways causing the type of (tragedies) we have recorded recently in Onitsha and Lagos,” Ashafa said.
He, therefore, observed that, all the tankers in the country would not have any business going to Lagos to lift fuel, if the refineries were still functional.
“Refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna would have taken care of the situation. The current road networks around Nigeria are grossly inadequate for the operations of trucks, tankers and the likes. Whatever would nail the menace in the nation’s highways must consider the volume of tankers lifting fuel from tank farms along Apapa ports, which have crowded the roads in and around Lagos, and extended to other cities in Nigeria,” he said.
Ashafa concluded by expressing optimism that fewer trailers would jam the Nigerian roads and other cities, if the rail lines were properly operating.