Two top agencies of the Federal Government – the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) – yesterday said they would launch separate investigations into an explosion that rocked the Linc Oil and Gas tank tarm located at the Calabar Free Trade Zone at the Calabar Port Complex on Sunday.
While commiserating with the families of 12 people that lost their lives in the incident, NPA it had commenced investigation “into the sad event with the aim of working with other organisations to prevent a recurrence of such events anytime in the future”.
NPA Head of Public Affairs, Ibrahim Nasiru said as part of measures put in place to forestall future occurrence of such event, NPA had contacted “the Cross River State Government on the urgent serious safety concerns over Esuk-Utan Beach residences right in the middle of an industrial area”.
“We want to reiterate our commitment to the safety of all customers, operators and agencies within our facilities nationwide.
“We also commend the courageous effort of the NPA and Calabar free trade zone firemen, who put their lives on the line to prevent the spread of the terrible inferno.
“This is in addition to the deployment of our tugboat MV Zaria that provided support from the waterfront.
“The NPA wishes people who sustained injuries from this incident speedy recovery as we pray for the repose of the souls of the dead,” Nasiru added.
Speaking separately, NEPZA Managing Director, Emmanuel Jime, said though he suspects illegalities going on at the tank farm to be the primary reason for the incident, “anyone or tank farm found culpable will upon the end of the investigation be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent”.
Jime visited the charred facility on Monday alongside other senior government officials.
“I want to use the opportunity of this platform to pay our respect to the dead and to also say to those who have lost their loved ones that our prayers are with them at this point in time.
“We can only say that, from the preliminary report that I have read so far, it does appear, somebody was actually meddling with the pipe. It is quiet safe to say there was a criminal intention but we are not able to say that for now until investigations are thoroughly conducted,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has advised consumers of petroleum products across the country not to engage in panic buying as a result of the fire incident Linc oil tank farm.
NNPC in a statement on Monday assured that the unfortunate fire incident at a private tank farm had not affected its operations, and that the corporation’s stock holding was robust.
“NNPC has over 40 day-sufficiency for petrol, and adequate volumes of diesel and kerosene to meet consumers’ demand nationwide, therefore it is pointless to engage in panic buying,” the statement said.
NNPC Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru, who received briefs on the incident, expressed regrets over the unfortunate loss of life in the inferno.
He consoled the families of those who lost their loved ones in the incident, advising communities in areas of Oil and Gas operations to always exercise caution and be vigilant at all times.