By ADEWALE SANYAOLU
An early morning inferno yesterday gutted the AITEO petroleum depot on Dockyard Road, Apapa, Lagos, resulting in the death of the assistant to the tanker driver. A man who witnessed the incident disclosed that the fire was triggered off during the process of loading petroleum products into tankers. The depot which is next to NIPCO, caused pandemonium in the entire area as people ran for safety while others mobilized to ensure that the fire was put off on time to prevent it from spreading to adjoining buildings.
An official of one of the depots on Dockyard Road, who does not want his name in print, lauded the efforts of the fire safety team of NIPCO, who, he said provided the water in conjunction with men of the Lagos Fire Service before the fire was finally put off at about 4.00pm. “It is not an intentional act as some people are suggesting. It is not possible to have such huge investments and one will want to have it in ruins. It is just a technical hitch that occurred during the loading process. And it can happen at anytime.
So for me I want to rule out sabotage. It is just an unfortunate incident,” he said. Confirming the development, the Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Ngozi Braide, said at about 1am policemen at Apapa, got a distress call and quickly raced to the scene of the incident. She explained that a tanker at the loading bay of the petroleum depot of AITEO was engulfed in fire as at the time of loading while a ‘motorboy’ died in the inferno. Besides, she said about seven other people where rushed to the hospital as a result of suffocation, confirming that they have, however, been discharged from hospital after doctors attending to them certified them fit.
“I can confirm to you that those that were discharged did not sustain any form of burns or injury but the fumes from the fire suffocated them but they have been revived and discharged as at this time that I am talking to you,” she explained. However, efforts to reach the management of the company to get their own side of the story proved abortive.