The Port Facility Security Officers (PFSO) forum has called on the Federal Government to learn a lesson from the negative experience of the port in Beirut, Lebanon where explosions took place due to hazardous materials in containers stalked in the Port.
On 4 August, 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 thousands homeless.
Speaking in a chat with SHIPS & PORTS, Chairman PFSO forum, Lagos Maritime Security Zone, Dr. Uche Ignatius, said such incident could happen at any other port if proper procedures and protocols are not adhered to with respect to International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG).
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.
“The government should learn a lesson from the unfortunate incident that happened in the port of Beirut where hundreds of people lost their life’s 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.
“Can we begin to think out of the box as concerns citizens and stakeholders in the maritime industry? What will be the critical impact if such happens in Apapa with the multiple tanks farms and heavily congested traffic situation.
“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.
“The million dollar questions are who issues such licence for the establishment of tank farms within the communities? Who conducts the environmental impact assessment? Are we not really sitting on a keg of gunpowder? The time to act is now,” he said.