Residents of Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, have expressed concerns over the indiscriminate floating of cooking gas dispense shops in every nook and cranny of the metropolis and its environs.
The residents, who lamented that they are sitting on a keg of gunpowder, called on the state government and relevant agencies to closely monitor the activities of the gas vendors.
A resident of Urua Ekpa and shop owner in the area identified as John Bassey told our correspondent that they have no fewer than three shops along the street adding that all were sited around residential homes.
He said the call for clampdown was necessary given the inflammatory nature of gas especially in residential areas.
Also, one Unyime Akpan said, “we are gradually moving away from fossil fuel but my worry is the proliferation of these gas vendors in resident areas. We all know the combustible nature of gas.
“We’ve heard of sad occurrences in other places, and that is why the government must exercise strict control over their activities to safeguard lives and property.”
Ebong Bassey, another resident of Asutan Street, echoed Akpan as he noted that almost all the streets where people reside have at least two gas vendors operating in the area noting that a dispensing shop is sited beside a kitchen of a popular restaurant in the area
He therefore urged the state government to ensure that the vendors are given frequent safety training considering the risk their operations pose.
However the Deputy Director of Fire Service, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Anthony Tom, in an interview said such proliferation is as a result of ignorance and lack of proper feasibility studies when venturing into business.
He advised operators to ensure strict compliance with safety precautions as laid down by the department to forestall the danger associated with illegal or indiscriminate siting of such shops.
Tom explained that since cooking gas is a common commodity that is used by people within the society, strict compliance to safety precautions in siting such shops and not isolating them should be harped on.
He urged those venturing into such business, to as a matter of first line priority, visit the Fire Service office for inspection, to determine the volume of hazard within a given environment.
“Some people might think such shops are supposed to be in isolated areas but that is not ideal, note that the volume of danger in that particular situation is also very high in case of any eventuality. You can have a whole city in flames and no one would be spared.
“The best option is; stick to the rules: when you want to open a gas dispensing shop, follow the rules: number one: call in the fire service to inspect the space before you even pay for it, they will know the volume of danger in a given environment.
“We have discovered in the course of our regular inspections that there could be a food outlet where open flame is used and beside it is a gas dispense shop. The danger here is applicable to everyone, the owner of the shop is not spared, the customers, even the ones patronizing the food outlet are not excluded,” Tom explained.
He however called on the general public to partner in the safety business by writing petitions where necessary to the fire service department for necessary lawful actions, recommending fire extinguishers for every business owner and private homes.
On his part, the Operations Controller, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in Akwa Ibom, Mr Victor Ohwodiasa, in an interview said, “It is unacceptable practice, we will definitely clamp down on them, As i speak now, our men is on the way to check on the illegal gas stations and any one caught, we face the wrath of the law.
“It is uncompromised operation because safety is involved and we are very critical about it and we don’t need to be reactive but we want to be proactive before we have an incident, we need to nip it in the bud.”