Last Saturday, not less than five persons died while others sustained various degrees of injury as a result of gas explosion at Sabon Tasha, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State. Among those that died was professor Simon Mallam, Chairman of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, NAEC. In addition, valuable properties valued at millions of Naira were destroyed as a result of the gas explosion.
As it has become the norm whereby public officials apply ‘medicine after death,’ the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) later came up with the lame excuse that the owner of the gas retailer shop operated illegally. The DPR has now issued a threat to ‘sanction’ those that operates gas stations without license.
The DPR Zonal Operations Controller, North West, Isa Tafida, in a reaction to the ugly incident, told newsmen that all unlicensed LPG retail outlets and operators would meet with stiff penalties by his Department.
While condoling with victims of the explosion, Tafilda said that the gas retailer operated without even a category D license being issued to retailers in the zone. He urged investors, gas plant operators and retailers to obtain the required license that would ensure safe handling of gas, to avoid similar accidents in the future.
“The DPR Kaduna Zone wishes to extend its sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, the government and people of Kaduna state. “We regret the unfortunate incident of gas explosion that occurred on Saturday that recorded loss of lives, injuries of various degrees and loss of worthy properties.
“The outcome of our preliminary investigations reveal that the facility is an illegal gas retailing vendor that engages in illegal storage, decanting and sales of LPG (cooking) and acetylene (industrial gases).
“The operator of that illegal facility is unknown to the department and the facility is not licensed by DPR,“ Tafida said. According to him, the department has variously conducted training, monitoring of LPG outlets and issued warnings to members of the public not to patronise the illegal operators. He said that DPR had also enjoined such illegal operators to follow the laid down rules and regulations, by obtaining license to ensure safe handling of gas; considering its volatility.
“Gas retailers who do not have category D license for retailing LPG are desperate for money, because LPG is new source of money and the public now know better, that using gas for cooking is faster and cleaner; but the public need to be aware that it has to be handled with caution. “Investors should invest in gas business but they should follow the rules and regulations and do it in line with best practices,” he said, adding that DPR had approved and licensed 38 LPG plants in Kaduna state in 2019.
”Despite this, hundreds of unlicensed retailers and gas vendors are still operating within Kaduna city,” he said.
The questions Tafilda and his DPR should answer include ‘why is the Department telling the public that the gas retailer operated illegally after lives have been lost? Who is responsible for regulating how gas should be retailed? Who are being paid with tax-payers money to fish out and sanction those illegally operating sensitive and very dangerous products like gas? What do Nigerians stand to gain from Tafilda’s belated threat to deal with those flaunting the rules on gas retailing? Many question?
As opined by many Nigerians, the matter would soon be swept under the carpet until another time such an unfortunate incident occurs somewhere else.
We therefore call on relevant regulatory agencies to rise up to their responsibilities and rid the nation of illegal operators of gas retailing plants and other such dealers to avoid unnecessary loss of precious lives.