LAST week, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) reported an explosion at its Benin River Valve Oil Mining Lease OML 40 operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), its subsidiary, on behalf of the NPDC/ ELEREST joint venture. According to the NNPC spokesman, Dr. Kennie Obateru, the explosion occurred during the installation of a ladder at the facility.
Although the spokesperson said that the NNPC had fulfilled all official requirements regarding incidents such as this, including informing the families of the victims of the explosion and filling out the forms required in the industry, it still behoves the corporation to embark on a thorough investigation of the immediate and remote causes of the unfortunate accident that claimed seven lives.
The operations of the NNPC being legendary in their opacity, the claims of fulfilling all righteousness regarding best industrial practices cannot be taken at face value. The investigation into the explosion must be made very thorough and transparent. The investigation should also consider the required safety precautions as they are universally rated. This is crucial considering the country’s notoriously lackadaisical approach to maintenance in every sphere of life. Installing a ladder shouldn’t ordinarily lead to an explosion that would cost seven precious human lives. Were the operational procedures indeed of international standards? Nigerians deserve to know all the hard truths surrounding the incident at the Benin River Valve Oil Mining Lease OML 40.
At all times, the corporation should be mindful of the state of the equipment deployed in its operations. It is imperative that such explosions in its facilities do not recur. The operations of the facilities should be guided by strict adherence to international best practices. It is not enough to issue tersely worded statements explaining away the tragic deaths of seven precious citizens of the country: the circumstances surrounding the tragedy deaths must be unmasked, and safeguards put in place to prevent future calamities. That is the only way to pay tribute to the memories of the victims of this unfortunate incident.
It is important to see the deaths beyond the official statistics and consider their respective families and loved ones who invariably will feel the loss most. Their colleagues who are still working in similar situations will also need assurances that they will not be subjected to a similar fate now or in the future. We commiserate with the bereaved families and pray that they will find comfort at this time. Needless to say, the wives and children of the departed should be given their entitlements without delay.
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