The Senate on Thursday called on the Nigeria Police Force, in conjunction with the Federal Road Safety Corps, to investigate the circumstances that led to the fire outbreak that gutted properties in Onitsha late October.
The senators made this call following a motion raised by Ifeanyi Ubah, Uche Ekwunife and Stella Oduah – all senators representing Anambra State – on the tragic fuel tanker fire disaster in the state.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how in the span of two weeks, three tankers laden with petroleum products fell in Onitsha, Anambra state, spilling their contents, resulting in the destruction of properties and lives.
The first occurred in Upper Iweka, Onitsha, on October 16, and the latter two on Enugu-Onitsha road on October 18 and 31.
While debating the motion, Ezenwa Onyewuchi (PDP-IMO east) lamented the worrisome response rate to disasters in the country, while also commiserating with the victims of the incident.
“It is important we look at the response mechanism of Nigeria as a nation to emergency situation and fire incidents. We can intervene as a legislature. We have to look at the data on our roads.
“Most importantly, we should look at the issue of moving inflammable products by tankers. We should look at moving them by pipelines. As a country, we should invest in pipelines. It is safer. It is more convenient. As a nation that is where we should be headed.”
Other senators called on the Federal Road Safety Corps to up its game in keeping unfit vehicles and drivers off the nation’s roads.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, also called on the state government to be more responsive in ensuring the safety of lives and properties.
“Sometimes we say we should have a proper structure of government in Nigeria. Fire service is a major responsibility of any state to provide. The federal government can provide some kind of support but they can’t take lead. Markets are where states money. They should ensure that the roads leading to the market are widened and they are good,” Mr Lawan advised.
“There is a need to ensure that drivers of these tankers are certified and that they don’t drink while driving. That places some responsibilities on road safety to ensure or drivers are not under any influence.”
The House then observed a minute of silence in honour of those who died in the inferno.
Following the debate, the Senate resolved to send a delegation to visit and commiserate with the victims.
It also urged the federal government to give financial aids to affected persons as well as provide fire fighting equipment in all major markets across the country.
Also on Thursday, the Senate considered a bill to establish the Federal Polytechnic, Orogun, Delta State. The bill scaled second reading.
The bill was sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege (APC–Delta Central).
While moving the motion for the establishment of the school, Mr Omo-Agege said the institution was conceived with the intent of projecting technical academic excellence in the country.
He added that the proposed polytechnic would create more admission opportunities for Nigerian youths.
Currently 28 federal polytechnics are in various locations in the country.
Mr Omo-Agege noted that a landmass in excess of 100 hectares has been earmarked by the proposed host community for the development of the school’s infrastructure.
The school, if passed into law, would offer, among others, full-time courses in technology, applied science, management, arts, humanities, social sciences, engineering.
“By establishing the Federal Polytechnic Orogun, this Senate would be creating an institution that would develop and deliver cutting edge education and training programmes for our professionals.
“The Institution will engage strategic research and development activities for broad national development, and take leadership roles in promoting the economic development of the immediate community and the society at large,” Mr Omo-Agege said.
The Senate President said the country’s educational sector is in dire need of technical knowledge. He, therefore, suggested that practical knowledge such as that of ICT should be included in the sector’s curriculum.
Having scaled second reading, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND for further legislative work. Premium Times
Pix: Onitsha tanker fire