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Let us avoid another gas plant explosion in Lagos

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[files] People try to salvage valuables from buildings on fire after a tanker laden with gas exploded and left over a dozen of people critically injured and several buildings and vehicles burnt at Iju Ishaga in Lagos, on September 24, 2020. – A tanker conveying gasoline exploded at Iju-Ishaga district of Lagos, leaving over a dozen of persons critically injured and several buildings and vehicles destroyed. The gas explosion which was reported to have killed 1 and injured about a dozen of victims according to Lagos State Emergency Response Unit. (Photo by KOLA SULAIMON / AFP)

Sir: Barely a week after a gas explosion in Baruwa, Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos State that claimed no fewer than five lives, razed 25 buildings, 16 shops and a private school building, another plant is reportedly being sited along the ever-busy Demurin/Alapere road, Ketu, part of Lagos. A non political, Non-Governmental Organisation in the state, the Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA) has alerted the nation of the possible danger in Alapere, Ketu, area of Lagos State.

Speaking through a statement signed by Barrister Stanley Karo Emeluaha, the group’s executive director (Legal) and made available to journalists in Lagos, SEJA described the gas plant sited in a densely populated residential area as a disaster waiting to happen and wondered why the government should allow such a development in the face of previous experiences in the state and the nation at large.

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The details of the statements as issued by SEJA noted that the construction of the gas station shows insensitivity and regulatory gaps, and further paints a picture of people that are not ready to draw a lesson from previous experiences. Allowing a gas plant in a densely populated residential area such as the Demurin/ Ketu axis is another time bomb waiting to explode. Very fundamental is the awareness that the planet shares a common fence with Globacom communication customer centre, reputed for not being customer free and a welding and fabrication company with high pressure equipment. This is in addition to the fact that just a stone throw from the plant is a 330KVA National Grid line. Also ringing apprehension is the consciousness that the same spot houses Saint Michael Catholic Church, arguably the biggest church in Ketu with over 6000 worshipers. Noted, the worshippers gain entrance to the church via the bus stop where this gas plant is located.

As a people, we must also not fail to remember the March 2020 incident where about 23 people were killed and more than 50 houses destroyed when a massive explosion rocked the Abule Ado area of Lagos State. At least 60 students sustained injuries from the incident. While it is imperative at this point to acknowledge that provision of security, the pursuit of the economic welfare of citizens, and improving the life chances of the people are the constitutional responsibilities of the state which all leaders must achieve, every leader is expected to proactively perform this role at the most fundamental level.

Therefore, the Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led administration in Lagos and the Department of Petroleum Resources should swiftly intervene. Lagos cannot afford another needless human and material carnage arising from a gas plant explosion.
 
Jerome-Mario Utomi wrote from Lagos.

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