Senators express anger over Benue tanker explosion

•Orji, Kalu, decry menace of tankers

The Senate on Thursday expressed sadness over the death of 50 people in Benue state following the explosion of a petrol tanker in Gwer East Local Government Area.

The fatal accident occurred along Ahumbe village, along Makurdi- Aliade- Oturkpo Federal Highway.

In a  motion sponsored by Emmanuel Oker-Jev, (Benue Northwest)  and tagged,  “Benue tanker explosion: urgent need to curb incessant explosions of petroleum tankers in Nigeria”, the Senator attributed the accident to a very dilapidated portion of the federal road.

Senator Oker-Jev in his lead debate revealed that over 100 people who sustained different degrees of injuries were battling for survival at Benue University Teaching Hospital as most victims were severely burnt and that more critical cases were being referred to other hospitals.

The Senate called on the federal government  to release funds for the dualisation of the Keffi-Lafia-Makurdi-Enugu road, where the incident happened, the upper legislative chamber equally  called on the management of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Federal Ministry of Health  to quickly intervene and assist the families affected and victims undergoing medical attention in different hospitals.

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The Senate also resolved to constitute an adhoc committee to liaise with relevant agencies, organisations and stakeholders to identify the remote and immediate cause of incessant petroleum tanker explosions in Nigeria.

The committee when constituted will come up with sustainable solutions to the Senate within eight weeks.

Two senators from Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu and his successor, Theodore Orji, representing Abia North and  Central, respectively decried the poor state of the articulated vehicles and the recklessness of their drivers.

Senator Kalu particularly called for a ban of underage truck drivers across major highways in the country.

He recalled that as a governor in Abia state,  he intercepted a truck driven by a 16-year old boy.

The Senate Chief Whip said relevant government agencies should be proactive enough to ban certain categories of articulated vehicles and checkmate truck drivers with no value for human lives who ply our federal highways.

He said: “As governor of Abia State, I had to intervene and stop a 16-year old teenage boy who was operating a petrol truck. I also ensured that people of his age were not allowed to drive there.

“If we can stop this and ensure that they are taken out of our highways, there will be more safety. Some of them are too young and they lose control at any slight chance. This is not good for us,”

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