Matters Arising From The Onitsha Oil Tanker Tragedy | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Matters Arising From The Onitsha Oil Tanker Tragedy

Posted: Jun 15, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Nwabueze Akabogu

The sad news of the monumental tragedy that struck the commercial city of Onitsha on that black Sunday, 31st May 2015 was received by many people with great shock and utter disbelief. According to the media report, a petrol tanker fully laden with as Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, which was heading towards the very busy Upper Iweka area of the commercial city on that fateful day, suddenly lost control and skidded off the road and finally crashed into the nearby motor park where it exploded instantaneously. Consequent upon the explosion, the inferno immediately spread over the wide area and many passengers waiting to board their vehicles for their journeys as well as passersby were burnt to ashes beyond recognition together with many vehicles that were stationed within the motor park and its environs. Many other vehicles said to be plying the route at that time were equally caught up in the blazing inferno which had engulfed the entire area and were also burnt to ashes in the process. The actual number of casualties in the inferno could not be immediately ascertained but at press time the unofficial figure of casualties was put at seventy persons including a pregnant woman.

Onitsha Oil Tanker Fire

Onitsha Oil Tanker Fire

Many persons who also sustained bodily injuries were said to have been rushed to the nearby hospitals including the Toronto and St. Charles’ Borromeo Hospitals by officials of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)  and other security agencies including the fire service personnel who arrived the scène almost  immediately after the terrible tragedy.

Suffice to say however, that the awful sight of the charred bodies of the victims of the accident as they were being evacuated from the scene by officials of the International Red Cross Society and other security agencies which was televised by both the local and international TV Stations was simply horrendous and utterly nauseating. The unfortunate incident could rightly be described as a national calamity of monumental proportion and as such every thing humanly possible must be done by the authorities to prevent future occurrence of this horrifying tragedy in our country.

It is a matter of  deep regret however, that the present generation of Nigerian drivers on our high ways have little or no regards for human lives, thus our high ways despite their regular rehabilitation and maintenance by the authorities, had in recent times been recording unprecedented level of carnage as a result of avoidable accidents or mishaps. Recent statistics had revealed that the number of frequent deaths on our high ways far exceeds the deaths caused by natural or other unknown causes.

It is high time; therefore, the Nigerian authorities took immediate and drastic action to stem the alarming rate of auto crashes on our high ways before more precious lives are lost. After all, no body knows who else might be the next victim and as such the common saying that a stitch in time saves nine is very apt in this regard. Hence everything within our powers must be done to stop the mindless carnage on our high ways.

In civilized nations of the world, the conveyance of highly inflammable and hazardous products, such as petroleum and gas are under the law, normally transported through efficient railway system or by sea and certainly not by heavy tankers and trucks as is the present case in Nigeria.

One could recall rather with nostalgia that in the early sixties or thereabout the haulage or transportation of petroleum and other agricultural products were conveyed through the Nigerian railways across the nation and heavy tankers and trucks were rarely found on our high ways during that era.

It is the contention of this writer therefore, that the time has now come to urgently regulate the notorious activities of these tanker and heavy duty vehicles’ drivers and their owners which had already brought untold hardship and constant embarrassment to the Nigerian people. Urgent legislation should be enacted as a matter of utmost urgency by both the National and State Houses of Assembly for the immediate restriction of these heavy duty vehicles and tankers from plying the high ways particularly in densely populated urban cities and towns during the day time. This law when enacted and enforced will definitely minimize to a very large extent the frequent untimely deaths now prevalent on the high ways across the country.