The recent gas disaster that occurred in Ladipo in the Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos state is one tragedy too many. The tragedy occurred at the popular Ladipo Spare Parts Market located along Ojekunle Street. By the time the last explosion was heard, about five people, including a 10-year-old boy, had lost their lives. Several others were seriously injured and properties valued at millions of naira consumed by the inferno. The scene of the explosion was also littered with welding cylinders and burnt vehicles.
A spokesman of the National Emergency Agency, Ibrahim Farinloye, who spoke to newsmen at the site of the tragedy, confirmed the number of fatalities.
Gas explosions have become regular occurrences in different parts of the country in recent years. For instance,on January 23, this year, tragedy struck in the bustling Agbor town when a tanker loaded with cooking gas exploded while discharging the content at a gas plant. The unfortunate incident led to the death of four people, while about a dozen suffered varying degrees of severe burns. Properties worth several millions of naira located around the plant were also not spared in the conflagration that ensued.
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On January 15, 2018, a gas explosion occurred at the Second Coming Filling Station in Magodo, Lagos. The explosion was believed to have been caused by a leakage from a gas plant. About 10 lives were lost, while all the vehicles in and around the gas station as well as one 33,000-litre gas truck parked in the premises were caught in the raging inferno.
On September 11, 2018, a gas explosion occurred at the Monaco Filling Station, Lafia, that left over 20 lives consumed by fire, while more than 50 people suffered varying degrees of severe burns. The tragedy occurred when a product reservoir, believed to emit leakage, responded to a spark resulting from a head-on collision between a commercial motorcyclist and a tricyclist along the street close to the filling station.
Consequently, the station caught fire that led to the explosion that also consumed no fewer than 17 vehicles, two fuel tankers, several tricycles and motorcycles. Many adjoining houses were also razed down and properties worth millions of naira reduced to ashes.
It was a gory sight as several bodies, most of them burnt beyond recognition, littered the scene of the explosion. Victims included kids, some students on their way to the Nasarawa State Polytechnic, Lafia, and travellers along the Lafia-Abuja road.
The Mshin tragedy has once again brought to the fore the need to ensure safety where these inflammable products are marketed in safer locations. There are several cooking gas selling points littering everywhere in the country. It is common to see sales outlets accommodated in crowded locations like crowded markets, plazas and residential areas.
The relevant regulatory agencies, including the Fire Service, have a responsibility to see to it that operators of the businesses meet the necessary conditions for the setting up of filling stations and adhere strictly to safety standards. The same goes for marketers of cooking gas and similar inflammatory products. They must be made to train their workers on how to respond to emergency situations whenever they occur, and the workers must be equipped with fire-fighting tools.
Gas sellers must also ensure that their patrons adhere strictly to the rules that forbid making or answering calls in and around their sales outlets. Those who contravene the rules should be treated as merchants of death and dealt with appropriately. The relevant agencies cannot watch these recurring incidents as acts of God. They have the responsibilities of stopping innocent Nigerians, including the marketers of the products, from being sent to their early graves.