In Morning Crossfire 2019-06-28 09:56:50

Today marks exactly one year ago when the Otedola fire incident occurred in Lagos. That incident occurred on Thursday 28th 2018 and it claimed over 54 vehicles which were said to have been gutted with fire on the Lagos-Ibadan Express way. The fully loaded petrol tanker spilled its contents on the highway. It caused heavy traffic and many lives were lost. A conservative statistics revealed that nine people were burned on the spot and several others lost their lives in other accidents caused by the confusion.


Sherif gave a quick run-down of timelines of petrol tanker accidents which involved petrol tanker explosions over the years. “Back in 2012, over 100 people were killed when a petrol tanker exploded Okogbe Community at Rivers State. In 2015, over 100 suspected petroleum pipeline vandals were burned to death along Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Pipeline (NNPC) at Arepo, Ogun state. On October 2, 2018 a petrol tanker spilled its content along the Lagos Badagri road in Ojo Local Government area. Several vehicles were burned. On December 10, 2018 over 100 houses, 50 cars and shops were set ablaze at a pipeline exploded due to the activities of vandals at Abule Egba area of Lagos. No life was lost in that incident. On January 11, 2019 a petrol tanker belonging to the NNPC caught fire along the Ifako bridge, Ogudu Lagos State. In the same month, another petrol tanker exploded at Ojo area of Lagos State, killing two and burning several other vehicles.


Morning Crossfire however, is dedicated to the victims of the famous Otedola Bridge tanker explosion incident in 2018. Iyiola Akande, who has retired from NEMA comments that the rightful road agencies were fully on top of the issue. Regarding the movement of the tankers and other heavy duty trucks, Iyiola emphasizes that local authorities should have ensured that it was properly regulated.


“The process by that tanker drivers could not drive at night isn’t supposed to be because at the end of the day you are looking at the general wellfare of the populace not just a section who are benefitting from such movements, it is in order that there should be a ban on them at the peak hours of the day.” says Iyiola.


The movement of petrol tankers across Nigeria and Lagos has been provided under a section in the road traffic law 2012. It said that vehicles with more than one wheel axle or six tyres are restricted between the hours of 6am and 9pm with the exception of the following; car, bus, passenger buses, fire service trucks, rescue and recovery trucks, petrol trucks, perishable farm products trucks, refuse collection trucks, and cement mixer trucks, tractors, and refrigerated trucks, as Wemimo reveals.


Regarding why these issues occur and persist, Rotimi Sankore mentions that the very reason that “no working rail system is available for movement of goods and services. If you look globally, the way to move products and postal services move heavy items by rail as well as by air. The fact that we have none of those things in Nigeria means that we have a disproportional number of tankers on the roads. In developed countries, tankers have to move to petrol stations from the depot where the products arrive by rail.


“But there are other problems that mitigate the problem. One is the good roads available. Another is the quality of the roads that links to where the heavy vehicles have to go. It is not just a question of spraying the roads with tar. Next is the time factor, and who says that the tankers can’t have security?


“In the interim, the solution to the lack of good roads and a good rail system is to move in the night. These are people who obviously need security.”


But in Nigeria, it is often said that the masses are under-policed. So who provides the security for the moving vehicles at night? “If we say that there is no means of providing security,” Rotimi says, “they are allocated to VIPs around the country.”


Sherif adds that if management of these tanker companies to get a head of a tanker which costs about 50 million naira and the body of tanker that costs about 60 million naira; why are the companies having issues with providing security for themselves?


“The other problem is maintenance,” Rotimi continues. “The reason for frequent accidents on our roads is due to things such as brake failures. Whether it is at midnight or during the day time, one of the problems these tankers have is that they lack efficient braking for a tanker. The maintenance of these ‘moving bombs’ should be stricter. Literacy is also a problem with the drivers who drive as if they are driving a ‘danfo’. The drivers are also very stressed and need to be relieved occasionally.”


The FRSC said in 2018 that Nigeria lost up to 7.157 billion naira to road mishaps involving 116 petroleum product tankers. The details were given by Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi. In 2019, Nigeria lost 39 billion naira to trailer and tanker road accidents as at February.


What really is the job of NEMA? Is there hope for  states that have pipelines running through their veins like what obtains in Lagos? What is happening to key areas in Lagos? What should be done about the problem of frequent tanker accidents on Nigerian roads?


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Morning Crossfire with Wemimo (@wemimospot) & Sheriff (@SheriffQuadry), alongside Rotimi Sankore (@RotimiSankore)

#MorningCrossfire #NigeriaInfo993



Wemimo Adewuni and Sherif Quadri hosts on Morning Crossfire

Journalist and Policy Development Expert, Mr. Rotimi Sankore

Chairman Peace Estate Baruwa, Mr Wemimo Omojowo

South West Zonal Coordinator National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)  Mr. Iyiola Akande


By Jude Chukwuemeka