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Nigeria’s regulator for petroleum resources is looking to address the recent wave of road accidents linked to oil tankers by setting a limit to the transportation of petroleum products.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been several crashes involving tankers in Lagos State, the country’s commercial hub. The city has already surpassed the figure of tanker crashes in 2018, according to Hyginus Omeje, the Lagos Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).

Over time, other states have also recorded similar incidents such as Oyo, Benue in July this year in which 40 people died and 60 others were injured, as well as the most recent accident in the popular Onitsha market in the country’s south-eastern state of Anambra.

Road accidents involving tankers are blamed largely on non-compliance with minimum safety standards especially by tank farm owners and tanker drivers in the country.

Hence, loading and distribution of over 33,000 litres of petroleum products by road tankers would not be allowed anymore, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has said.

“Many of the roads were constructed to have (a) maximum carrying capacity of 30 tonnes (about 33,000 litres). The Nigerian law only allows for 33,000 litres to be loaded out of the depots,” said Wole Akinyosoye, Controller for the DPR’s Lagos Zonal Operations.

Speaking at the zone’s 2019 Annual General Meeting in Lagos, Akinyosoye explained that currently, there are “60,000 litres, 45,000 litres and sometimes 90,000 litres loaded out of the depots” admitting that the DPR is “culpable” in those circumstances.

The official also blamed the lack of adequate pipelines built for conveying fuel as a reason for petroleum products being transported through roads. He, however, affirmed that the regulator would make sure that the maximum limit of 33,000 litres is attained.

“We admit that the DPR is culpable in these circumstances. But the department has taken a decision because of what has been happening in the last two to three months that we have to enforce the maximum limit, which is 33,000 litres, on our roads,” Akinyosoye said.

Coupled with the loss of lives, tanker accidents also come with financial costs. It is estimated that Nigeria lost up to N7 billion to road traffic accidents involving 116 petroleum product tankers in the first half of 2018.

That figure is excluding the number of people killed; the cost of treatment of the injured; damage to road infrastructure; environmental impact and other collateral damages. The total loss for last year was put at N9.8 billion.

Considering the lack of necessary infrastructure to safely transport petroleum across the country, the DPR’s move to ensure that safety returns to the roads again and petroleum products are adequately distributed is commendable.

In addition to enforcing compliance, the DPR’s Acting Director Ahmed Shakur said that the agency would partner with other relevant stakeholders to prevent further accidents caused by road tankers and the ensuing costs.

“We are liaising with relevant government agencies including the FRSC, federal and state fire service departments and relevant associations on solutions, including scheduling of tanker truck movement, provision of fast and efficient towing services,” Shakur said.

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