Following the explosion that rocked Abule Ado community in Lagos State last Sunday, residents of KiriKiri, Satellite and Festac towns have expressed fears that similar incident may befall them, unless government checks the indiscriminate siting of tank farms in their neighbourhood.
At the end of these towns, overlooking the Lagos Lagoon, are tank farms of different oil and gas companies, making residents to now fear that the fate that befell the people of Abule Ado may likely befall them, except caution is applied in the erection of the farms.
A resident of Satellite Town, Olakunle Adebayo, said that the fear of the residents had been there.
“We had always quarreled with the owners of these tank farms, we had pleaded with them to consider the residents and see that they carry out environmental impact assessment before establishing these tank farms, but they have declined every of our pleas.”
He said that the explosion and the destruction of lives and property at the Abule Ado end of Lagos is an eye opener and that the resident would continue to raise objection to the establishment of these thank farms until something is done.
For instance, he said residents of Ijegun area of Satellite Town saw a little of what these could do, following the explosion that rocked a 6,000,000-litre capacity tank, but he noted “thankfully, no one died, however, we continually live in fear that the smallest insignificant spark could translate into lost of lives and property.”
Omorodion Lucky, who also a resident in KiriKiri town told a heart-rending story of how a tank farm went up in flames, but added that, “the luck we had was that the tank in question was near empty, while the surrounding tanks were also empty. Had there been products, the entire area would have been engulfed by the inferno.”
Following the narration and protest by residents of the area people who witnessed the destruction at Abule Ado said it has become a matter of exigency to immediately decongest these danger zones by investing in other locations that hold similar advantages and are not right in the middle of the town. If this is not done, it is only a matter of time before these stored combustible products would turn residential areas into graveyards.
Residents accused the Department of Petroleum Resource (DPR) of complexity in the sighting of the tank farms, saying that there is need for the organisation to do environmental impact assessment before giving its approval.
For instance, at KiriKiri, it was leant that the oil and gas companies settle the DPR to have their ways in the establishment of tank farms.
Efforts to get the Lagos spokesman of the DPR to speak on the allegation of settlement for tank farms failed, as when Sunday Sun called the DPR Lagos spokesman, Mr Paul Osu on his number 08113952154, he denied ownership of the number.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) after the blast last Sunday said that the explosion was as a result of gas explosion, which occurred after a truck hit some gas cylinders stacked in a gas processing plant located near the corporation’s system 2B Pipeline Right of Way.
Kennie Obateru, the NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, explained that preliminary findings indicated that the impact of the explosion was so huge that it led to the collapse of nearby houses and damage to NNPC pipeline on which efforts are being made to curtail the resultant fire then.
Obateru noted in a statement that the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari and other top management of the corporation had departed to Lagos on that Sunday evening for an on-the-spot assessment at the scene of the incident.
He also disclosed that following the report of the explosion, the corporation quickly halted ongoing pumping operations on the Atlas Cove-Mosimi pipeline which was active at the time.
Therefore, Chima Okereafor said that with the explanation by the NNPC that it was gas that caused the Abule Ado explosion, “we expect that government should move in and ensure that the tank farms in Kirikiri, Satellite and other coastal areas of Lagos are in good shape to avoid a repeat of Abule Ado.”
The destruction in Abule Ado was massive, the deaths were uncountable and the losses were unquantifiable as confused residents gather themselves together to define a way forward.
According to the Director of Education of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Monsignor Jerome Odutan, Reverend Sister Henrietta Alokha who was the administrator of the school and another Reverend sister were the first casualties.
He declined to speak further on the casualty figures, but Sunday Sun learnt that no fewer than 17 corpses were evacuated from the rubble on the first day.
Our reporter at the scene of the incident, reported that a family that was about leaving their house for church services: a father, mother and son, had already boarded their vehicle and were driving out of their resident when the blast occurred and their car was mangled and they all perished.
Similarly, a man who according to witnesses, usually attends mid-morning mass, but surprisingly on that day he attended the early morning mass and had just returned with his wife and was just settling down at home when the blast occurred also died.
The eye-witness said that the foundation of their building shock greatly that the walls started collapsing and as he was running out of the house with his wife a wall collapsed on them and killed them.
An affected landlord, Chief Emmanuel Umeh, who said he lost two duplexes, a luxury hair saloon, a sewing factory, all worth over N130 million, advised the Federal Government to thread with caution as a takeover of the affected areas may do more harm to victims.
Narrating how he escaped death, Umeh said: “I had gone to church with my family that Sunday morning and that was what saved me. When we got back, we discovered we had lost everything. What I and my family are left with is the clothes we wore to church. We want the government to come to our aid.”
Also the Landlords/Resident Association called on the Federal and state government to set up a high-powered fact-finding committee to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the explosion, which they described as a national disaster.
“It is indeed very unfortunate that we lost our BoT chairman, wife, children and over 30 others. We need help from the government to put our lives together.”
According Caleb Nwachukwu, a resident of the Abule Ado area, “it was like the beginning of the end, as I sat in my living room watching television with my family. We just returned from 6:00a.m mass, then suddenly the blast that threw all of us off balance and relocated us to different places, but thank God Almighty we only sustained minor injuries.”
He said all his property were destroyed, including television, furniture, as the impact of the explosion went through their apartment like hurricane, blowing their windows, doors and iron railings and burglary proof off.
The story of Caleb Nwachukwu was nothing compared to the story from the Girls College, as they were sitting in their refectory for the 9:00a.m mass, which had just began when the explosion came.
An eye-witness said that the deafening sound of the explosion had sent the students scampering to safety, but the administrator of the school, Reverend Sister Henrietta Alokha was able to call them together and moved them far away from the refectory towards the fence and they brought a ladder to enable them climb to the other side of the wall.
The witness listed the destruction in the school to include the administrative block, the chapel still under construction, the staff residences, the dormitory and the grotto.
Meanwhile, emergency workers are still searching for the body of a man who was declared missing by family members three days after the massive explosion.
Three persons who suffered major injuries are being treated at different hospitals while 57 others have been treated and discharged.
Briefing journalists on the extent of rescue work done since the explosion occurred, the Director-General of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, said that a total of 276 persons were displaced as a result of the explosion.
The Director-General said that 57 others who were trapped under the rubble were rescued.
According to him, three others were still being treated at different hospitals.
“One is in admission at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, another is being treated at the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital Ojo, and the third is at Gold Treat Hospital.
“A total of 20 people were recovered, 93 houses were damaged out of which 44 were mildly damaged, 49 were severely damaged; 40 cars and three articulated vehicles were destroyed, seven schools were destroyed, three churches, one hotel, and one shopping complex were also destroyed.
“A committee has been set up by the governor of Lagos State, chaired by the state deputy governor. A relief camp has also been opened by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the sum of N2 billion deposited. One person is still missing,” he added.
He explained that post disaster assessment by all relevant government agencies was ongoing, adding that members of the public would be fully briefed on the outcome of the investigation.
The LASEMA boss said that 11 unidentified bodies have so far been recovered from the rubbles.