19th December, 2013
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has ordered the Attorney-General of the state to prosecute two suspected importers of fireworks that caused last year’s Boxing Day explosions at Jankara Market on Lagos Island, Lagos, western Nigeria.
The governor also banned all markets and improvised warehouses for explosives in Jankara, Ojo-Giwa, Okoya and Moshalashi areas of Lagos Island.
These are contained in the Lagos State Government White Paper on the Lagos Island Explosion and Fire Incident of 26 December, 2012 in which one person was killed, 10 houses razed and 11 cars burnt at Ojo-Giwa Street, Jankara Market.
Fashola had set up a tribunal on the Jankara Market tragedy to look into the immediate and remote causes of the incident and proffer solutions to avert future occurrence. The committee submitted its report to the governor last month.
In the white paper, the governor ordered that Messrs. Joseph Olabode Ibiwoye and Olaleken Semilore, suspected importers of the fireworks that caused the fire at Ojo-Giwa and Okoya areas of Lagos Island on 26 December, 2012, as well as others found culpable be prosecuted by the State Attorney General to serve as a deterrent to others.
According to the white paper, “all markets and improvised warehouses for explosive materials in the Jankara, Ojo-Giwa, Okoya, Moshalashi areas should henceforth cease to operate as such while efforts will be made by government to create an urban warehouse in Jankara area.
“The Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development has been directed to implement these measures in collaboration with other relevant agencies of government, ensuring that explosives are not stored illegally in residential buildings and other unauthorized locations. As a further step, the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development is to conduct immediate inspection of warehouses currently being used, especially high-rise residential and office buildings which have been converted to commercial uses.”
The white paper, signed by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Aderemi Ibirogba, added that all those whose properties were burnt in the incident were free to rebuild, provided such reconstruction works were in accordance with the provisions of the state’s Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2010 as well as the Master Plan and Regeneration Plan for the area.
“Also, the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure is directed to subject affected buildings which were not earlier demolished, to structural integrity test to ascertain their suitability or otherwise for renovation and occupation. Government notes the need for proper trading places and directs its Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development to expedite action on the implementation of the Lagos Island West Urban Redevelopment Plan, currently being implemented at Oluwole and Isale Gangan,” it stated.
In the white paper, the state government acknowledged the importance of fireworks in social life, but noted that these fireworks were highly combustible and could be very dangerous and that as such, they must be used with strict adherence to relevant safety and security rules and in line with health guides so they do not become a threat to life and public order.
It said that as prescribed by law, the sale, storage and handling of fireworks must be with the express permission of government and in line with extant regulations and that health and safety rules required that all explosives to be sold, stored or distributed in Lagos State must bear a clear definition of its production details, contents, manufacturer’s address as well as clear instructions for its safe use in English Language.
“To further strengthen these rules, government has directed the Ministry of Justice and the Political and Legislative Powers Bureau to make recommendations to the National Assembly on the Explosive Substances Bill which is currently under consideration.
“Government has also directed the State’s Safety Commission and Fire Services to carry out regular inspection of storage facilities for fireworks and their distribution outlets so as to ensure storage in proper environment. They are also to hold regular meetings to sensitise market leaders at these locations,” it stated.