By Nurudeen Yisa and Dare Ojelade, Lagos
But for the indifference attitude of officials of the Lagos State Government through the state Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, the Baruwa gas explosion could have been prevented and lives saved, reports The Gazelle News.com.
This medium reported on Thursday, 8 October, 2020 of the gas explosion at Best Roof Gas Station In Baruwa which claimed 8 lives, destroyed 25 houses, 16 shops and a school among others.
The Gazelle News.com can exclusively report that the residents of the Candoz community in Baruwa area of the State under the name, Unity Community Development Association have complained to the state government through their lawyer.
The residents, through their lawyer, Femi Anthony Agbaje, esq, sent a safe our soul to the Lagos State Government on the activities of the Best Roof Gas Station which later exploded on Thursday, 8 October, 2020 as far back as 5 February, 2018.
The letter written on behalf of the Unity Community Development Association complained that citing the gas station in the area constitute dangers to the over 30,000 residents of the area.
Tracing the history of the construction of the gas station, the letter stated that the land in question located at 61b Cardoso Road, Unity bus stop, Baruwa Inside, Baruwa, Ipaja was purchased by the proprietor of the gas station, one Baba Saheed meant for residential purpose.
The letter expressed surprised that the land was later used to construct a gas cum petrol station which drew the protests of the residents.
The residents were irked that the gas station is located in a residential area where schools, churches and other residential buildings are located. Apparently, the residents’ protest fell on deaf ears of the gas station owner which prompted their lawyer, Femi Agbaje, esq to send a safe our soul letter to the then state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.
The letter dated 5 February, 2018 was titled: HUMBLE PLEA TO SAVE OUR LIVES & PROPERTIES ON DANGEROUS EFFECT OF GAS STATION ERECTED/OPERATED BY THE BEST ROOF GAS STATION, 61B CARDOS ROAD, BARUWA, IPAJA chronicled the history of the gas station and the need for government to act and save the lives and properties of the residents.
The letter explained that locating the gas station in such a densely populated residential area pose serious dangers to the residents and their properties citing how gas explosions have caused disasters in residential areas like Magodo and Badagry where lives and properties were lost.
Copies of the letters were sent to the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa; then Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Wasiu Anifowoshe and media organisations in the state.
The Gazelle News.com investigations revealed that indeed the state government responded on the matter. But the response left much to be desired hence the residents resigned themselves to fate, waiting for the disaster to happen and it did occurred on Thursday, 8 October, 2020 leaving anguish in its trail.
In its response through a letter from the state Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, the state government acknowledged the receipt of letter by the residents’ lawyer saying that the government was looking into the matter.
The state government’s letter signed by TPL Ajayi B.A.A., ADTPS (TSD) which was dated 15 March, 2020 with reference number MPP&UD/TSD/18/72 told the residents that they would swear affidavit to bear the costs of removal of the gas station if approval is granted by the government.
Consequently, the residents were expected to pay the following for removal of the gas station if the government approved the process:
(1) N689,000 (six hundred and eighty nine thousand Naira only) payable to the state Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development
(2) N68,900 (sixty eight thousand, nine hundred naira only) payable to the state government.
Thus, the residents were charged a total of N757,900 (seven and fifty seven thousand, nine hundred naira only) to the state government for the removal of the gas station.
“That marked the end of the matter because my clients could not afford the money,” Barrister Agbaje told The Gazelle News.com on Friday, 9 October, 2020, the day after the gas explosion disaster which claimed eight lives and destroyed properties worth millions of naira.
As residents lament the huge loss of lives and properties to the gas explosion, the general belief among them was that the disaster could have been prevented if the state government had acted decisively on the petition sent by the residents through their lawyer.