Last Sunday, what can be termed a national tragedy occurred in Abule Ado, Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos. As at press time, official sources put the number of the dead at 17; while unofficial ones put it at 25. The explosion which occurred in the morning hours, also destroyed many buildings and vehicles. Most saddening was the scenario at Bethlehem High School in the area in which a Rev Sister who was the principal of the school, died while helping to rescue her students after the hall they were using for Mass was affected. A family of four was also said to have perished in the explosion while in their car.
The cause of the explosion was attributed to the bursting of a gas pipeline. However, some sources claimed it was a bomb which was planted by suspected terrorists in a parked shuttle bus that exploded and was helped by the gas pipeline nearby to have a shattering impact.
Whatever it was that caused it, the damage has been done, with many dead and wounded. But it brought to the fore once more, the failure of government agencies in the country to live up to their responsibilities through sheer laxity.
It had been said times without number in the past, how dangerous it is to have such facilities near residences or highly populated places like markets, parks and schools; be it petrol stations or gas plants. Same goes for people living or doing business under high tension cables.
There, indeed, had been occasions in the past where those cables fell on the people and electrocuted them, prompting the Federal Government to ban people from doing business or living under high tension cables.
Also after an explosion at a petrol station in Onitsha, the Anambra State Government had moved to stop people building petrol or gas stations near highly populated areas. Even though this had not been complied with, at least the citizens felt that government was showing concern.
Now, the Lagos incident – whether caused by a bomb or gas explosion, could have had minimal impact if people did not live close by. If it was a bomb, the nearness of a gas pipeline in the area exacerbated the impact.
But we all know that the same government agencies who ought to prevent people from building houses or shops in such an area, permitted them to do so, probably because they collected money from such people. Now the worst has happened and everyone has been trading blames.
We use this opportunity therefore to call on government agencies to adhere strictly to government policies on such developments, no matter how tempting it is not to do so. Such pipelines must and should be far removed from residential and business places and those saddled with such task should be monitored to ensure they are doing the right thing.
We feel it is high time punishment was meted out to those who fail in the line of their duties. We cannot continue to make laws and break them. What happened last Sunday in Lagos was highly regrettable and could have happened to anyone there at that time.
We urge governments in the country to rise above just making proclamations but ensuring they are carried out. For sure, if this had been applied in the case of last Sunday's explosion, many lives would have been saved. It was even lucky that such did not happen on a working day, as only God knows what would have happened.
We commit the souls of all the dead victims of the Abule Ado fire to the lord where succour awaits them.