Legislators mandate tank farm operators on safety

Eme Offiong, Calabar

Legislators have passed a resolution to mandate all operators of tank farm in Nigeria to comply with safety guidelines as enshrined in the law.

The legislators also mandated the House of Assembly Committee on Environment to interface with the relevant authorities in the petroleum sector as well as operators of tank farms to ensure compliance with safety laws.

The development came following the recent inferno at the Cross River State tank farm.

Speaker of the Cross River House of Assembly, John Gaul Lebo said that tank farm operators have been given 30 days to comply with the standards or be shut down.

Mr Lebo told newsmen in Calabar that “the Cross River State Safety Commission Law and the amended Cross River State Fire Service Law provided guidelines for safety”.

According to him, “we are concerned about the safety of our citizens and safety of public infrastructure. The tank farms do not comply with development control because they get their approval from the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company, PPMC and disregard safety Standards of Cross River State”.

He said that with the extent of piping of Calabar in more than 300 locations any fire outbreak would mean the destruction of the entire city.

“We are concerned that the business of the tank farms has led to the piping of Calabar in so many locations such as the airport, through the navy, the House of Assembly quarters, the House of Assembly itself, the Governor’s House and also through the Tinapa business and leisure resort,” Lebo stated.

In the same vein, the sponsor of the motion, William Eteng representing Yakurr 2 State Constituency explained that the resolution would protect fishing settlements, the vast mangrove forest and the aquatic habitat.

Eteng said; “we are taking a decision before it happens, which is the safety of our environment. We know that the operation of the tank farms is on the exclusive list, but our Cross River environment is not….Tank farms should comply with our safety regulations especially now that we have the Safety Commission and Cross River State Fire Service law 2017. So, they should comply for the interest of the people.”

The Vice Chairman of the State Assembly Committee on Environment, Hilary Bisong said that based on the resolutions, the team would undertake an inspection of the tank farm, hold meetings with the operators and other relevant authorities.

“Apart from Lagos State, Cross River seems to be the next fertilised ground for tank farms businesses. We have more than 44 tank farms and over 20 have been approved for Calabar Free Zone,” Bisong said.

“What we are to do as a committee requires technical capacity. So, the committee will engage a reputable firm with technical know-how to guide us on the safety measures to watch out for and make sure the fire outbreak never occur again,” he added.

They lawmakers have embarked on an annual recess to resume for plenary on November 11, 2017.

Sammie Idika