By Stephen Ubanna
Barely three weeks after the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and Lagos state Professional fire fighters did a marvelous job of putting out the fire set at the agency Corporate Headquarters in Marina, by hoodlums in the guise of END SARS protest, the duo agencies, fire- fighting personnel had another opportunity of testing their expertise at Oando tank farm, on Gaskiya road, Ijora- Badia area on Thursday, November 6, 2020.
The NPA fire fighters, particular, may have been invited alongside the Lagos state Lagos state Fire and Rescue Service, LASFRS, including the Lagos state Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, to the oando depot to salvage the situation. The Authority fire fighters may have been invited as an alternative for fear that the Lagos state government fire fighters might not respond quickly to their call.
This is because of previous experiences of some other Organisations which had invited the Lagos state Fire and Rescue Services agency when they had a fire outbreak in their facility but were disappointed. This is because the Lagos Fire- fighting agency officials would always provide one excuse or the other to cover up their gross inefficiency ranging from lack of water in their tankers , short hose to inadequate manpower leading to late arrival to the scene of the fire incident.
The raging fire at the Oando depot was said to be very severe as it could been in different parts of the south west state, putting fear in the minds of the residents of the area that if something urgent was not quickly done to put out the fire , it may cause much damage.
The Value News learnt that no sooner had the Oando Authorities reached out to Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, the NPA, Managing Director ,than she gave a matching order to the Head of the agency fire fight unit to mobilise his men to the scene of the fire incident at Ijora badia to join the downstream Company fire fighters and Lagos state Fire and Rescue Service personnel to put out the fire at the depot.
When contacted on phone, Jatto Adams, a General Manager and the agency Head of Corporate and Strategic Communications confirmed that the Authority fire fighters were on ground at Ijora Badia to help in Combating the Oando petrol tank fire outbreak. The Magazine cited the Authority Fire fighters at the Ijora deport helping out in combating the fire at the 7.5 million litres of petrol tank , which many believe could be fully loaded into 22 trucks, to prevent it from spreading to other tanks in the tank farm.
Olufemi Oke- Osanyintolu, Director General, LASEMA, had told those that cares to listen that the agency, had responded to Oando invitation immediately they got the alert. Hear him: the agency activated its emergency response plan and all the relevant stakeholders including NPA, quickly Commenced appropriate measures to Combat the fire and prevent secondary accidents.
In Combating the fire incident, the Onndo tank farm was said to have been condoned- off to prevent people from coming around to disrupt the operation of the fire fighters from the Lagos state Fire and Rescue Services and NPA including the fire fighters from the downstream Company
, the Professional fire fighters were said to have climbed on top of their water tanker at the risk of their lives very close to the burning petrol tank and stretched out their hose to pump out water into the petrol tank to put out the flames in order to prevent its escalation to other tanks in the farm which may be very dangerous.
Eyewitness account disclosed that the operation was well Coordinated by the fire fighters from the LSFRS and NPA which may have saved the nation from another embarrassment. ‘’We were able to localise the fire to prevent it from spreading to any secondary sites or adjoin locations, the LASEMA, Director General had said. Insider information had said that the fire had started around 5.00pm at the Oando Petrol tank but there had not been any clue as to the cause of the fire incident.
While the LSFRS and NPA fire fighters were busy battling to quench the fire at the Ijora Badia petrol 7.5 million petrol tank, OVH Energy , the Licencee Company behind the Oando retail brand in Africa had reported that a fire outbreak also broke out at terminal 1, in Apapa area in the state.
The Company had reported that preliminary investigations of the Apapa fire incident shows that it emanated from a tank within the terminal. The happiness of the OVH Energy officials, was that they have a team of Professional fire fighters on ground to manage the situation until the LASFRS and NPA , fire fighters arrived the scene to help out in Combating the raging fire. The god news was that there were no casualties in the Ondo petrol tanks that gutted fire at Ijora –Badi a and Apapa terminal 1 AS the Depot officials were said to have been evacuated to a safe location to avoid endangering their lives.
In a related development, Heads of the Federal ministry of Transportation agencies, Bashir Jamoh, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bar. Hassan Bello, Nigerian Shippers Council, George Moghalu, Nigerian Inland Water Ways, NIWA , Sam Nwakohu, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, CRFFN, and Emmanuel Effedua, a rtd, Naval Commodore and Rector, Maritime Accademy , MAN, Oron, Akwa Ibom state, were said to have expressed shock at the attack and level of destruction that took place at the NPA, Corporate headquarters at Marina, Lagos, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020, which had been carried out by hoodlums in the guise of END SARS protest.
The Maritime agencies Chief Executive Officers, CEOs, were said to have expressed their concern on Friday, November 7, 2020, when they paid a solidarity visit to Hajia Usman. They noted that it was a surprise that the Authority could be singled out of all the other government agencies along the marina road for attack despite its documented Community Relations Initiatives, Corporate and Social Responsibilit which were ‘’tailoured to Youth development’’.
Moghalu, the NIWA boss had described ‘’the level of destruction of the NPA Corporate headquarters as monumental and a huge loss the nation’s maritime Community’’. An aggrieved Moghalu had stated further , ‘’this is a great loss to the entire country’’, assuring the NPA Managing Director ‘’we are in solidarity with the Management team’’.
Jamoh, the NIMASA Director General, averred that there was no basis for the attack on the NPA, office Complex at Marina by the hoodlums, stating that ‘’port facilities were critical national assets that should be Collectively protected’’.
The NIMASA boss who could hide his feelings maintains that ‘’port facilities are valuable economic assets which are critical to the country’s economic development’’. He was said to have commended the Kaduna state born Managing Director of the NPA, ‘’for providing Leadership to the agency at this trying times’’. He feared that the nation’s economy would have suffered considerably if the destruction had led to suspension of operations at the Lagos ports of Apapa and Tincan island as well as the south east PortSs of PortHarcourt Area 2, Onne, Rivers port, Delta port and Calabar port. This is because Foreign shipping Companies may have seen it as an opportunity to abandon Nigerian ports on ground of safety and take the country bound cargoes and Container vessels to Cotonou port, Benin and Bollore port, both in Benin Republic, to discharge as transit cargoes.
‘’We are lucky that this did not stop shipping operations as it could have negatively impacted or crippled the nation’s economy’’, Jamoh had said.
The NPA boss, may have opened up when he saw his Counterparts from other agencies describing ‘’the attack on the Authority headquarters at marina as an assault on the nation’s maritime industry’. According to her ‘’the level of destruction was incomprehensible’’.
Recall that NPA Board members led by Akin Rickets, the ChaiRMAN, National Assembly Lawmakers , Some selected Lagos based Journalists and Nasir El-rufai, governor of Kaduna state, north west Nigeria , had earlier visted the burnt the NPA headquarters to see things themselves.