By Paul Ijasan
In recent times we have all witnessed cases of explosions in Lagos, which claimed lives of many and whereby property worth hundreds of millions were destroyed, consequently led to the sudden deprivation of the means of livelihood for many, most especially the peasants who are barely struggling to survive daily.
I am not and will never be a prophet of doom but I can say with absolute certainty that another explosion might soon occur and this time it might claim hundreds of lives and lots of properties, IF the Lagos State Government turns a deaf ear and harden their heart to this piece. In the eventual case of the failure to do the needful by the State or the concerned arms of government, my conscience will be clear and that is if I am fortunate to be among the survivors.
Sometime last year. we at Ketu Alapere along Demurin street, a DENSELY populated area, woke up to see a development coming up around us (we pray for and welcome any development that will add value to the lives of the people). While wondering what it was all about, we started seeing massive cylinders/tanks mounted on concrete bases meant for HIGHLY INFLAMMABLE GAS distribution! You need to see and have a firsthand experience to realize how ridiculous and insensitive whoever is trying to do this can be. Surrounding the gas cylinders ‘project’: you have local canteens with naked fires that even passersby stylishly avoid; many engaged in roasting plantains for sale, there is a welding workshop situated nearby, the houses around have a proximity that is so scary. You will think that the houses are extensions of the gas shop, even than less the two meters that COVID-19 safety guideline requires; it’s so close to the main road and a busy bus stop where buses with reckless drivers have run into people and the gutter on many occasions.
Few months ago, we saw the stop-work sign of the department of petroleum resource (DPR) boldly marked on the structure and we were happy that our government is truly working. Some weeks later, to our surprise, we saw work in progress again. What is really wrong with us in this country? You have your good reasoning in the first place that judged that situating that shop in that place connotes a potential danger and havoc, so what has changed now for you to allow it again? How can anyone in his right senses permit and approve this in such a location? Some form of corruption? How can the selfish interest of an individual or a group of people override the public interest and human lives? I guess poor people’s lives don’t matter. We human beings in our myopic sense of judgment often think we are so clever as to outwit others and so delude ourselves that we can outsmart any impending disaster. Those who constructed illegal pile lines or vandalized them in order to profit from it thought same before the disaster took place, and thereby caused havoc and loss of lives and property.
St Michael Catholic Church is just less than 20 meters away from this ‘shop’ and I just imagine a situation whereby an accident should occur on a Sunday….. we will be talking of thousands of casualties… God forbid. But accident never gives anyone prior notice before it strikes. But the signs are always there. We can all keep quiet so as not to step on people’s toes or their business and wait for disaster to happen.
I don’t have to be a seer or spend days on the mountain in order to see this impending danger looming around us. It is preventable if we can place human lives above any financial gain or profit. I’m begging and appealing to His Excellency the Governor of Lagos State to come to the rescue of the people he is governing. We don’t want you to visit us on the grounds of condolence and sympathy over any loss of lives due to recklessness and gross insensitivity of some elements within your State. We want you to visit us when you will commission the roads whose construction your good and humble self have started. Save us from this disaster that is about to happen. Eko o ni ba je o! Ilosiwaju Ilu Eko lo je wa logun.
Paul Ijasan is the Parish Priest of St. Michael Catholic Church, Ketu, Lagos.