Clus­ters Of Ser­vice Sta­tions Stir Safety Con­cerns

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - CITY FILE - By Ade­lowo Ade­bu­miti

EX­CEPT the La­gos State gov­ern­ment moves quickly to cur­tail the ris­ing num­ber of ser­vice sta­tions springing up in res­i­den­tial ar­eas in some parts of the state, th­ese fa­cil­i­ties would con­tinue to be a source of worry to res­i­dents of such ar­eas.

The trend now is for busi­ness­men and in­vestors to build petrol sta­tions in res­i­den­tial ar­eas, ap­par­ently to cap­ture a large chunk of con­sumers liv­ing in those ar­eas. A good num­ber of th­ese fa­cil­i­ties are op­er­at­ing il­le­gally.

Ac­cord­ing to data from the Depart­ment of Petrol Re­source (DPR), there are presently 86 il­le­gal fill­ing sta­tions around the coun­try.

How­ever, find­ings by The­guardian re­vealed that the num­ber of il­le­gal and in­dis­crim­i­nately lo­cated ser­vice sta­tions around the coun­try could triple the fig­ure bandied by the DPR, es­pe­cially be­cause of the sce­nario that ob­tains in ru­ral ar­eas, where the agency has lit­tle or no pres­ence.

Gone are the days, when fuel sta­tions were lo­cated in des­ig­nated ar­eas in­clud­ing out­skirts of towns, as well as, in lo­ca­tions far from res­i­den­tial ar­eas. Nowa­days, fill­ing sta­tions have be­come reg­u­lar fea­tures of al­most ev­ery neigh­bour­hood in the coun­try, even as they have also ex­panded their scope of oper­a­tions to in­clude shop­ping malls, sales of gas cylin­ders, re­fill­ing of cook­ing gas, and lube bays for servicing ve­hi­cles.

Abaranje road in Iko­tun area of La­gos State is one lo­ca­tion where this un­for­tu­nate de­vel­op­ment is be­ing fur­thered with­out any re­stric­tion. There are eight ser­vice sta­tions along the road.

A first-time vis­i­tor to the area would be amazed by the prox­im­ity of th­ese sta­tions to each other, as well as their prox­im­ity to ho­tels, shops, schools, churches and sundry places where peo­ple are found in large num­bers.

Com­ing from Iko­tun, the first fill­ing sta­tion is Dave Dem­long and Com­pany, lo­cated be­side the popular Aso Rock Ho­tel. Aside the ho­tel, there are res­i­den­tial houses and shops lo­cated very close to the sta­tion.

The next sta­tion there is God’s De­ci­sion Fill­ing Sta­tion, which stands be­side a schoolKing’s An­chor Col­lege. The sta­tion also serves as a pick-up cen­tre for the e-com­merce web­site, Konga.

Op­po­site De Royale Ho­tel and Suites is Al­hameda Fill­ing Sta­tion. The sta­tion, which has a lot of set­backs is next to an open event cen­tre. There are no oc­cu­pied houses close by as most struc­tures be­hind it are ei­ther un­com­pleted or un­in­hab­ited.

Still along the same stretch of road is Wa­le­ola Golden Ven­ture Nige­ria Lim­ited. It boasts of an eatery called Hunkie, and there are a num­ber of shops be­side it.

The next one is Ak­in­tech Fill­ing Sta­tion, which is al­most op­po­site the Mo­bil Fill­ing Sta­tion next to it. This fa­cil­ity lo­cated be­side a branch of The Re­deemed Chris­tian Church of God (RCCG), sells cook­ing gas and gro­ceries, while the Mo­bil sta­tion lo­cated at K and S Bus Stop stands next to a school called Sil­ver Spring Col­lege. The sta­tion is also ad­ja­cent to a host of shops.

Forte Oil, a medium size ser­vice sta­tion is next along the road. The fill­ing sta­tion is lo­cated at Has­san Olakunle Bus Stop, and it of­fers other ser­vices to res­i­dents apart from sell­ing fuel. A church, Epis­tle of Christ Assem­bly is lo­cated be­side the petrol sta­tion. The Last fill­ing sta­tion along this stretch of road is Fi­delity En­ergy. It also boasts of an eatery, and plays host to a big va­ri­ety Shop. This sta­tion is also lo­cated in res­i­den­tial area. Be­sides it are houses, shops and a shop­ping Mall, Apata Plaza is op­po­site it. Also off Abaranje Road is Obabiyi Street. At the tail end of this street link­ing Abaranje and Iko­tun to Igando is a new fill­ing sta­tion called Han­sreal Petroleum Lim­ited, which was un­veiled and com­menced op­er­a­tion about two months ago, thus bring­ing to nine the num­bers of fill­ing sta­tions that ser­vice Abaranje com­mu­nity.

One com­mon fea­ture with all th­ese sta­tions is the fact that they are all lo­cated a short dis­tance from one an­other. Not one of them is one kilo­me­tre far from the next. Speak­ing to The Guardian on the pro­lif­er­a­tion of fill­ing sta­tions in the area, a trader, Ti­jani Akin­sola, won­dered why he should be con­cerned about the sprout­ing up of th­ese sta­tions close to his res­i­dence. Ac­cord­ing to him, he has not re­ally sat down to vi­su­al­ize the dan­gers in­volved in liv­ing close to a petrol sta­tion.

An­other res­i­dent of the com­mu­nity, Mrs. Modupe Ade­wole, also con­fessed that she has never both­ered to imag­ine the im­pli­ca­tion of lo­cat­ing fill­ing sta­tions in res­i­den­tial ar­eas.

She, how­ever, called on gov­ern­ment to reg­u­late the in­dus­try and pro­tect the cit­i­zens from any dan­ger that might arise frim lo­cat­ing fill­ing sta­tions in res­i­den­tial ar­eas since safety of res­i­dents of the state prin­ci­pally re­sides with it.

How­ever, an­other res­i­dent who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, is deeply wor­ried about the pro­lif­er­a­tion in view of the grave dan­ger it poses.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the fire out­break at MRS Fill­ing Sta­tion last year in Su­rulere that de­stroyed sev­eral prop­er­ties has re­mained ev­er­green in his mind.

He there­fore urged the state gov­ern­ment to act fast by clos­ing down il­le­gal sta­tions that fall short of min­i­mum re­quired stan­dards, rather than wait for tragedy to hap­pen be­fore wield­ing the big stick. “If the gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to keep mute, many more such fa­cil­i­ties would be com­ing on stream in res­i­den­tial ar­eas and en­dan­ger the lives of many.

When con­tacted re­cently on the is­sue, Mode­cai Ladan, DPR Di­rec­tor, ex­plained that the agency has al­ready clamped down on il­le­gal fill­ing sta­tions, say­ing the agency is col­lab­o­rat­ing with other agen­cies and rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers to tackle the prob­lem. Speak­ing of the pres­ence of fill­ing sta­tions in res­i­den­tial area, past Pres­i­dent, Nige­rian In­sti­tute of Town Plan­ners, Dr. Moses Ajayi, said fill­ing sta­tions have changed in char­ac­ter to be­come ‘ser­vice sta­tions.’

He said: “Now peo­ple go to buy kerosene and gas in petrol sta­tions, and petrol sta­tions now even have su­per­mar­kets at­tached to them, as well as eater­ies. So, petrol sta­tions have gone be­yond just sell­ing petrol. They are now more of ser­vice cen­tres than strictly petrol sta­tion. Petrol just hap­pens to be one of the things they sell.”

He, how­ever, stated that the trend has lo­ca­tional im­pli­ca­tions, as it fu­els fear among Nige­ri­ans that in­ci­dents of fire and ac­ci­dents may oc­cur any time.

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