25 June 2015, Abuja – The Senate on Wednesday agreed to summon the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to appear before its relevant committees as soon as they are constituted to account for the state of the existing refineries.
The red chamber also urged the Federal Government to revamp existing refineries and create enabling environment for private investors to invest in refineries.
It noted that the action remained a perfect way to finding a permanent solution to the reoccurring fuel crisis in the country.
It equally urged the Federal Road Safety Commission to arrange regular training for tanker drivers in the country in order to reduce their reckless driving.
The federal parliamentarians, who observed one minute silence for victims of the recent fuel tanker fires in Lagos and Onitsha, during their sitting on Wednesday, noted that the arrangements would curb the carnage on the nation’s highways.
The Senate made these resolutions following the motion sponsored by Senator Gbenga Ashafa, titled, ‘Fuel tanker tragedies on Nigeria’s highways’.
Ashafa, who represents Lagos East, noted with serious concern the spate of fuel tanker explosions on the nation’s highways, stressing that the ugly situation raised the question about what had become of the rail line project of the immediate past administration.
He said, “Within the space of one week, four fuel tanker accidents occurred in Nigeria’s two major cities, claiming lives and destroying property. The first incident was at Onitsha (the commercial nerve centre of Anambra State), which claimed over 70 lives at Upper Iweka.
“While the inferno raged, men of the Federal Fire Service, in their typical nature, arrived late at the scene to extinguish the fire.
“As condolence messages were still being expressed to the victims and their families, another accident occurred in Lagos.
“Here, another tanker conveying 33,000 litres of petrol exploded at Iyana-Ipaja and injured no fewer than 14 persons, gutting about 21 vehicles and razing down 44 shops.
“As Nigerians were still lamenting the tragedy at Iyana-Ipaja, another occurred at Idimu in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos.
“The incident destroyed property worth millions of Naira, (while) no fewer than 34 buildings, 70 shops, one tricycle, one truck and other property were consumed by the fire ignited by the fallen petrol-laden tanker.
“All the fuel tankers lifting fuel from the tank farms along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway have done tremendous damage to the highways, causing deaths, pains and gridlocks on the highways.
“Time has come for government to seek permanent solution instead of temporal palliatives, as fuel tankers from all states in the North, South-East and South-West states (go) to Lagos to lift fuel and besiege the highways causing the type of (tragedies) we have recorded recently in Onitsha and Lagos.”
Ashafa argued that all the tankers in the country would not have any business going to Lagos to lift fuel if the refineries were still functional.
Ashafa expressed optimism that fewer trailers would ply the Nigerian roads and other cities if the rail lines were properly operating, adding that such would help tackle the incessant accidents involving tanker drivers on the highways.