Job Osazuwa and Lukman Olabiyi
It was tears, sorrow and death, yesterday, when another gas explosion hit a densely populated area of Lagos State, claiming lives and destroying property worth hundreds of millions naira.
When the dust raised by the blast settled and search concluded, at least five persons were confirmed dead. Houses, lock-up shops were also razed while one private primary school, church, hotel, two transformers, electricity installations and an event centre were also consumed.
Also torched were three vehicles, comprising a pickup truck, tricycle and motorcycle were torched.
The explosion occurred around 5.44am at Best Roof Gas Station, located at Unity Bus Stop, Fatade area of Baruwa in Alimoso Local Government Area.
This is coming after gas explosions had months ago claimed lives and destroyed property in Ogba, Ajao Estate and Abule-Ado areas of the state.
Meanwhile, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has blamed the explosion on negligence on the part of the gas plant operators. He said preliminary and final reports on the cause of the explosion confirmed it.
Describing the incident as a sad memory in the life of his administration, he affirmed that government would take stiffer measures against operators of gas plants and/or any combustible items to avoid future reocurrence of such disaster.
“The gas explosion this morning has left a sour taste in my mouth. It is a reminder of the dark episode of March this year at Abule Ado Soba when innocent lives were lost to gas explosions of monumental proportion and properties destroyed. I really can’t believe that we would witness another such incident no matter how little…
“The reports I got showed that the explosion could have been avoided if the operators had adhered to safety guidelines. Lives would have been saved and properties too would not have been affected.”
The governor restated his administration’s commitment to safety of lives and properties of Lagosians by ensuring that operators follow strict regulations in the operations of gas plants.
He said the state Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency have been notified of the next line of action.
At the scene, resident who gave his name simply as Tunde said the explosion started around 5.44am. He stressed that there was apparent fear in the heavily populated area, especially as residents could not immediately figure out what was amiss, particularly as some persons were still asleep.
Painting the picture of how it all started, he said everyone in the community got confused when they heard the blast.
“I saw people running in different directions. Initially, we heard that it was a bomb because the sound frightened all of us. Some persons also got injured in the stampede that resulted. I have never experienced such a thing in my life,” he said
While calling on the government to ensure proper regulations of gas business and its operation near residential areas, a resident, Chief Sunday Adeayo, praised emergency responders for swiftly swinging into action to put out the fire.
“While the fire was still raging uncontrollably, the officials of the Lagos State Emergency Maintenance Agency (LASEMA), different security personnel and first aid administrators came to the scene. This is how it ought to be. Save for their timely intervention, more damage would have been done,” he said.
Director General of LASEMA, Olufemi Damilola Oke-Osanyintolu: “There were five fatalities recovered; eight persons with major burns who have been transferred to the Burns Unit at Gbagada General Hospital.”
Acting coordinator, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Lagos Territorial Office, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, said preliminary assessment has revealed that 44 buildings were affected.
“LPG tanker was in the process of discharging at the Best Roof Plant Station and the station generator was on from where it was reported that explosion erupted. The explosion threw the discharging tanker across the road. The fire has been put out completely.”