The Lagos Maritime Security Zone, LMSZ, of the Port Facility Security Officers of Nigeria, PFSON, forum has said the recent explosion experienced at the Port of Beirut, Lebanon, should be a lesson to Nigeria and called for the urgent relocation of tank farms in and around the Apapa ports areas.
Recall that on August 4, 2020, multiple explosions had occurred at the Port of Beirut after 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored improperly in a warehouse at the port caught fire. The blast killed more than 200 people and injured around 6,000 leaving several other thousands homeless.
Speaking on the consequences of any likely event of an explosion in Lagos, Chairman PFSO forum, Lagos Maritime Security Zone, Ignatius Uche, said that should any of such disasters occur in Lagos, vessels will stop coming to the nation’s ports and this will have an adverse effects on the economy.
Uche also said that because of the high concentration of these tank farms in Apapa coupled with the traffic gridlock, the rescue operation will almost be impossible.
He explained that rescue time during a disaster should not be more than five minutes, adding that it will take more than two days to access Apapa should any disaster occur in that area.
He stated: “The high concentration of tank farms does not give room for efficiency, the relocation of these tank farms will reduce the perennial traffic problem currently being experienced in that axis. We should not allow issues like this to occur before we act; if such a thing occurs in Apapa, the economy will be affected severely as vessels will also stop coming to our ports.
“Such a disaster will also put a question mark on Nigeria’s implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security, ISPS Code.”
He noted that with the concentration of tank farms in Apapa, which is a port area, there is an urgent need for the government to relocate the tank farms to forestall any disaster that may lead to loss of lives and investments.
He added, “The government should learn a lesson from the unfortunate incident that happened in the Port of Beirut where hundreds of people lost their lives and thousands were injured. It’s a misnomer and an aberration for hazardous materials, toxic and highly inflammable goods to be stored in the port along with other categories of goods.
“The security of life is of paramount importance to us as a forum as well as the protection of our national assets. The time to relocate tank farms is now especially along the Kirikiri axis to Ijegun where new ones are springing up on a daily basis.”