Nigerian President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari expressed his deep concern towards the petroleum tanker explosion that claimed 23 lives in Lokoja, Kogi state.
It was gathered that the 33,000-litre tanker, which was filled with Premium Motor Spirit and belonged to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC), had brake failure around 8am on Wednesday, September 23, and collided with five cars, two motorcycles and three tricycles, killing all the occupants.
Buhari lamented that the tragedy represented “another disturbing and saddening incident in the litany of tragedies that have befallen our country.”
Buhari said this in a statement titled, President Buhari mourns victims of Lokoja tanker explosion, which was issued out via his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
The President in his statement said, “I am seriously worried about the frequency of these unfortunate and large-scale tragedies in the country, which cause needless deaths.
“These frequent incidents that result in loss of lives and property are a national scandal caused by our indifference to safety standards.
“Many accidents are preventable if proper proactive and precautionary measures are put in place or properly observed as routine policies.
“Ours is a country where we move on whenever tragedies occur instead of taking preventive safety measures to forestall future calamities.”
Buhari therefore called on the county’s transport authorities, traffic and road management agencies as well as law enforcement officials to sit up and enforce safety standards with more seriousness.
He added, “Refusal to do the right thing can cause potential tragic problems that harm innocent people.
“Nigeria is not having a shortage of laws and regulations, but our problem is lack of zeal to enforce those laws and regulations for the sake of public safety.”
He expressed his sympathy to the state government and the bereaved families.
Virtually all the accident victims of the tanker explosion, which occurred in the Felele area of Lokoja, along the Lokoja/Abuja Highway, were school children and students of the state-owned polytechnic of the state.
A man from Okene was said to have lost six children to the inferno, while a family of five was wiped out in the accident that some referred to as the worst in the year so far.
The victims included five students of the Kogi state Polytechnic and three nursery pupils, who were on their way to school.
Also, pupils from the Baptist Academy, whose number had yet to be ascertained, were among those killed.
Also killed was a businessman, identified simply as Samson, alongside his wife and three children.
Samson, who was a dealer in sewing machines wanted to drop off his children at school as had become his daily routine before opening his shop.
“I was about crossing the road when I noticed the driver of the tanker signalling of the impending danger due to brake failure, and before one could say Jack Robinson, the 33,000-litre tanker conveying Premium Motor Spirit fell on its side and started spilling the content, which caught fire and burnt all vehicles in the vicinity,” an anonymous eyewitness explained.
It was reported that there were five burnt cars, three tricycles and two motorcycles.
Although it was confirmed by the Sector Commander of the Federal Road safety Corps in the state, Idris Fika Ali that 23 persons lost their lives, sources disclosed that there were about 40 casualties as a result of the accident
The state governor, Yahaya Bello did not hide his distress regarding the sorrowful incident as he said in a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Onogwu Mohammed that, “Governor Bello is very sad to learn of the tragic loss of lives, many vehicles, property and other valuables in the petrol tanker fire, while expressing his deepest condolences to the families of those affected by the ugly occurrence.
“He said this is sadly the greatest tragedy the state has witnessed in recent times, while describing the unfortunate accident as a sad development and shares the feeling of those who lost their loved ones in this incident.”
The governor also pleaded with the students of Kogi State Polytechnic to remain calm and peaceful, stating that he equally shared in their grieving moment over the death of some of their colleagues in the disaster.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, affirmed that the state government would not tolerate reckless driving on its roads.
He said, “the state government will stop at nothing to protect the lives of the citizens from needless deaths resulting from reckless road use.”
“This is sad and unacceptable,” he lamented while emphasizing that all road users must begin to act responsibly.