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Town planners consider new rules, regulations for gas stations, refill centres

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Gas explosion scene

Amid reoccurring incidences of gas explosion in Nigerian cities, town planners are spearheading new rules and regulations to tackle the menace.

There have also been positive responses from the authorities and other relevant stakeholders, who believe that the trend to establish gas stations and refill centres in all nook and crannies should be regulated.

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The planners want a proactive action from governments against their usual reactive approach, as the ugly incidences speak to the town planning regulations and practice in the country.

President of, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Lekwa Ezutah, said planners would work with other stakeholders to address the reoccurring gas incidents in the planned review of the building code.

He also said that the issue would be on top of the agenda when town planners meet in a few days’ time to chart a future for the urban development and settlements in Abuja.

Ezutah said the gas explosion is becoming a worrisome development. “It has not been treated as a subject matter but with the recent development, it is being considered as something that should stand on its own”, he added.

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For the former NITP president, Mr. Moses Ajayi, corruption is at the root of the problem because there are clear regulations on how and where people should build gas stations.

He said, petrol stations rarely catch fire due to strong regulation about the type of pipe to be used at the stations.

“There are clear regulations about what you are putting as a gas pipeline. There are measures such as the type of professionals that are supposed to build and supervise the construction process,” he said.

Ajayi said town planning offices are supposed to evaluate locations before such facilities are built, adding that property developers begin projects before going for approvals, which leads to haphazard developments, which now affects all settlements.

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“A lot of times, people just go and buy lands in any location and start building gas stations even in locations that are purely residential.

“If town planning is guiding developments, they would have been identified sites which are suitable for such stations. So, every time, I say Nigerian governments are lawless, they think that I am using too strong a word.

“I feel strongly that all over Nigeria, planning is following developments rather than planning guiding developments.

“They would have to ensure that locations for gas and petrol stations are appropriate but because the development is already there, planning is now following it. As much as planning is not guiding development, we will continue to have this problem”, he added.

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The former NITP president stressed, “those gas stations even if they are going to be in residential areas there should be regulations.”

Also, a renowned town planner, Mr.Remi Makinde, said there is a need for planners to come together and think again about this peculiar situation.

According to him, it is a very disturbing one because it is not just at the gas stations alone but the tankers that are falling down here and there.

He stressed that the issue of the gas explosion is due to the carelessness of some of the vendors, and even the customers because if they have adequate facilities in place to prevent such explosions, then it will be the convenience of the residents.

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