Enough of gas explosions — Daily Trust Editorial

Posted by News Express | 24 May 2022 | 333 times

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The explosion that shattered a storey building in the Sabongari area of Kano metropolis on May 17, 2022 was one too many. The explosion, which shook the entire area to its foundation, occurred in the morning when commercial activities in the city were just beginning to pick up. Residents who heard the explosion said it vibrated across several streets in the area. The window glasses of Winners Private School located near the scene of the explosion were shattered by the impact of the blast. Sabongari is a residential and business area in Fagge Local Government Area of the state.

Speaking on the cause of the explosion, the Kano State Police Command said its preliminary forensic analysis revealed that it was caused by a gas explosion and other chemical substances that were recovered from the scene of the explosion. The Commissioner of Police in Kano, Samaila Shuaibu Dikko, and the Director of the Department of State Services (DSS) in the state, Alhassan Mohammed, told journalists that a preliminary report suggested that the explosion came from the welder’s shop.

The spokesman for the command, SP Abdullahi Haruna Kiyawa, in a statement issued later, said nine persons were killed in the explosion and several more injured. This was additionally confirmed by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) who removed the bodies of the nine dead from the scene. The presence of security agencies from the Nigerian Army, the police, the DSS, the NSCDC as well as men of the FRSC and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) helped to ease rescue operations that initially turned difficult because of the huge crowd of spectators around the scene.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was in Kano to meet delegates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) visited the scene of the explosion in the company of the state governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. Later, Ganduje said that the state would take measures to regulate welding vocation in densely populated areas to avert future occurrence.

In the past one year, 38 people have died with 39 others severely injured in various gas explosions that occurred across the country. In over a dozen incidents involving ten states, Ogun State leads with five incidents all of which occurred in 2021; four in May and one in July of the same year. This is bad enough. Second to Ogun are Lagos and Kano states which recorded two incidents each. States that witnessed one incident each in the past 12 months are Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Delta, Kaduna, and the FCT.

The never-ending gas explosions in the country illustrate how relevant MDAs in many states have abandoned their statutory responsibility of enforcing standards and ensuring that citizens operate according to rules and regulations governing location of business premises. In the case of the Sabongari explosion, the Kano Urban Planning and Development Agency (KNUPDA) should take responsibility for allowing commercial welding activities to take place in a busy location such as where the welder’s gas exploded.

A situation where people are allowed to use or convert every available space into a welding workshop, gas refilling plant, filling station, automobile workshop, among others, is a recipe for the kind of disaster that we have seen in Kano and across other states in the country lately. The excesses of workshop or automobile garage owners are, most often, caused by corrupt government officials who compromise standards.

To end constant but avoidable loss of lives and property arising from gas explosions in parts of the country, relevant agencies in all states of the federation should ensure strict compliance with development control rules and standards. The Fire Service should periodically organise training on safety rules and standards for technicians that use or deal in Liquefied Natural Gas. We urge KNUPDA and similar agencies in other states to immediately relocate welding workshops, gas refilling plants, and filling stations within residential areas and market places to outside of towns and cities.

In addition, the security and emergency management agencies should be reminded of the dangers of hoarding information during emergency situations of this kind in the age of social media. Where reliable information from the relevant authorities is absent, citizens, and others with varying motivations, will fill the vacuum with fabricated information or fake news, which spreads like wildfire. This could end up doing harm to society as a whole. For this reason, we implore Nigerians to be circumspect about what information they share on social media or word of mouth in times of crisis.

And most urgently, we call on the security agencies to investigate this explosion comprehensively with a view to finding areas where regulatory failures or gross negligence of technicians repeatedly cause gas explosions in the country. “Enough of  these gas explosions.”

Source: News Express

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