By Tony Udemba
Members of the House of Representatives’ adhoc committee on the Need to Relocate Tank Farms from Residential Areas, recently undertook a two-day tour of oil storage facilities located within Ibru Jetty,
Beach land Estate and Apapa areas. The Committee which was thorough and diligent during the inspections, expressed dissatisfaction on varying levels of infractions and non- compliance discovered in some facilities, tasked the owners of tank farm on the need to operate in accordance with regulatory requirements and approvals. Some of the tank visited by Committee includes, Integrated Oil & Gas, Ibafon Petroleum, Ardova Petroleum, Conoil, Total, Honeywell, AZ, 11 Oil, OVH, Nipco and others.
Speaking at the stakeholders meeting which was organized by the Committee, its chairman, Hon. Princess Mariam Onuoha, representing Isiala Mbano/ Onuimo/ Okigwe Federal constituency of Imo
State, stated that the purpose of their visit Lagos was to investigate the regulatory compliance and safety implications of the location of tank farms in residential areas, and make appriopriate recomendations to the House of Representatives.
According to her, “ we are members of the Adhoc-Committee of the Federal House of Reps on the need to relocate Tank Farms from Residential Areas. We have come on investigative move to the remaining tank farms in Lagos State, specifically those located in Ibru Jetty, Beach land Estate and Apapa Wharf.” Continuing, she says, “ we have been in Lagos on investigative and reconnaissance visit, and for 2days wehave toured the facilities of these tank farms, and we are in joint inspection with Federal Fire Service, Department of Petroleum Resources, Federal Ministry of Environment, Nigerian Ports Authority,
NIMASA and related agencies of the Lagos State government. Our visit also stem from the recent fire incident in the OVH facility. While we commiserate with the owners of the facility, we have commended the team work exhibited by stakeholders around that neighbourhood which lead to the putting off of the fire. We also thank God that there was no loss of life in the inferno”. She noted that from their investigations and findings, they had noticed varying degrees of infractions ranging from fire safety using the best techniques and latest designs of fighting fires.
” We have also listened to some of the major challenges being faced by the owners of tanks farms, particularly problems of access to forex, no access roads, tripartite agreements and other myriads of
challenges. We as a house are determined to work with tank farm operators to ensure that there would be no hitch in the smooth supply of petroleum products, which about 60 percent of total national consumption or about that,
comes from Lagos State”. Speaking further, Hon. Onuoha stated, “By this visit and our findings, we have
mandated tank farm operators in Lagos, especially within those areas we have visited, to comply with set security and regulatory standards, and work in conformity with the provisions of the Lagos State
Ministry of Physical and planning to ensure compliance”.
On what would be the fate of tank farm operators who failed to meet up with the safety codes and regulatory standards, the leader of the committee says, ” i think about two or three of tank farm owners such as Obat and others, who have some infractions in their operations, and were not
here, we have summoned them to appear before the committee in Abuja, in conformity with the mandate given to us on oversight for which we are here on investigation. We want these companies to appear before nour committee with full disclosure of their registrations and approvals to operate and other relevant regulatory requirements, certifications and others, which we did not see in their facilities.
As a committee of the House of Reps, our advice to tank farm owners is to ensure that they adhere strictly to safety codes and regulatory procedures, as well as the global best practices required of in the industry. They must make sure that their operations have all thenecessary approvals, certifications, modern fire fighting equipment and other necessary tools in order to prevent fire disasters, and for
the effective protection of lives and property of residents. Also, these are necessary for the protection of the lives of their staffs and the huge investments they have made. They must not shy away from acquiring latest designs and technology in their operations, in order to guide against fire out-breaks in their facilities”.
She disclosed that in the course of the fact-finding and investigative tour of oil storagefacilities in Lagos, the House Adhoc Committee had visited about 25tank farms, while it’s findings were categorized appropriately, noting, ” it is unfortunate that most facilities have not fully met with the
regulatory requirements and operational safety standards, while some are either processing their documentations or yet to start. But like I said, we are here to work with the tank farm owners to ensure that the varying degrees of infractions we discovered in their facilities are put in order for the safety of their host communities, as well as their staffs and huge investments”.
On the deplorable roads and decaying infrastructures within the areas of the facilities, Hon. Onuoha stated that with intervention of House of Representatives the NPA in partnership with the
Federal Ministry of Works would very soon kick off civil works on the access roads in Kirikiri Town axis.
In the same vain, Hon. Oghene Emma Egoh, member House of Representatives, representing Amuwo Lagos State, commended the large turn up at the stakeholders meeting, even as he sued for the cooperation between the tank farm owners and residents to promote harmony and effective security and safety of the area against fire disaster. He stated that as the representative of
Amuwo Odofin federal constituency, where most of the petroleum storagefacilities are located, it became necessary for him to move the motion which resulted in the setting up of the house adhoc-committee given the number of petitions from residents seeking for the relocation of the tank farms due to the high risk of fire outbreak. He noted thatwhile it was pertinent for tank farm operators to continue with theirbusiness, they must ensure to protect the lives and property ofresidents, through the safety standard, modern fire-fighting equipment and all other requirements stipulated by the regulatory bodies. According to him, “
during the tour of the tank farms by the adhoc- House Committee, wesaw the huge investments made by the owners of the tank farms, and Itend to believe that while they are doing their business, there is
the compelling need for them to implement modern safety standards andglobal best practices for the effective protection of lives andproperty of residents. While going about their business they must
realize that the safety of human lives are paramount in their dailyoperations ’’.
In his presentations at the stakeholders meeting, Mr. Daniel Egbe ofthe Federal Fire Service, stated that it was regrettable that most ofthe about 25 tank farms visited during the inspection tour of thefacilities required fire-fighting codes and safety standards. He noted that insome facilities, their fire fighting equipment were malfunctioning andnot being regularly serviced to function effectively. While he
categorized the varying levels of compliance of the tank farms, hecalled on them to strictly abide with all the standard safetyrequirements of the government for effective mitigation of anyincidence of fire disaster.
While commending the committee members for their visit, Mr. JancreGodwin of MOMAN, assured them of the readiness of the association topartner with the House of Representatives and government in their
efforts to guarantee safety and harmony in the industry, even as hereiterated the efforts of tank farm owners to operate in accordancewith the requirements of the regulatory agencies. He further spoke on
the collaborative efforts of members of the association in areas ofinfrastructural development, security and safety of operations, andothers, while urging the House of Representatives to support them with access to forex, access roads and others.
Speaking to the media at the event, a resident of the area and environmentalist, Chief Williams, decried the high risk associated with the location of tank farms in the area, saying that “ with the high concentration of oil storage facilities in residential areas, it would be disastrous to control fire outbreak in the area, if there is any fire incident. Look at what happened recently at the OVH tank farm
facility at Ijora. Fire raged on for about three days before it was brought to a stop. You could have imagined what would have happened if it was not stopped”. He called on the government to relocate the oilstorage facilities outside densely populated areas, adding “ residents are tired of all these excuses from the tank farm operators
The one-day stakeholders meeting which held at Radisson Blues hotel, Victoria Island, was attended by managing directors/ CEOs and representatives of tank farm owners, oil &gas experts, community leaders and environmentalists. Other participants were, representatives of Federal Fire
Service, Federal Ministry of Environment, Nigerian Ports Authority, Department of Petroleum Resources, NIMASA, Representatives of relevant agencies of the Lagos State Government.
Pix below: Hon. Princess Mariam Onuoha (3rd from Right), Chairman, House Adhoc Committee on Relocation of Tank farms, flanked by members of the Committe