By Salisu Sani-Idris, Abuja.
The FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Wednesday in Abuja called for the establishment of a safety commission to regulate the activities of gas stations.
It said that the proposal was aimed at curbing gas explosions in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The Director-General of FEMA, Alhaji Abbas Idriss, made the call at a news conference organized on the activities of the agency in 2022 and its plans for 2023.
Idris observed that most gas stations and outlets in the nation’s capital did not have well-trained workers that attended to customers professionally whenever they were at the stations to refill their gas cylinders.
“Every gas station is supposed to have a protective gear for customers to use within their vicinity to protect themselves.
“Gas sale outlets in the filling stations are supposed to have a wall demarcating them with the fuel station, but it is not the situation.
“So, if we need to have a safety commission regulated by the FCT Administration (FCTA) to ensure that they train the workers of those stations and make sure that they do the right thing.
“If not, we will continue to have fire and gas explosions that are going to cause much havoc in the FCT, and we have written to the administration on the proposed establishment of a safety commission,” he said.
Besides, the director-general said that the agency had concluded plans to introduce Emergency Marshals to work in different communities across the six Area Councils of the FC T to curb hazards.
He stated that this was a measure aimed at managing the adverse effects of the rapidly growing population of the nation’s capital.
Idriss disclosed that the agency had carried out hazards mappings in Abuja, identifying areas where urgent attention was required.
He explained that the decision to introduce Emergency Marshals was based on the need to increase safety interventions and also mitigate hazards.
According to him, the Emergency Marshals will complement the efforts of volunteers, who have played key roles in the agency’s activities.
Idriss said: “We intend to introduce Emergency Marshals this year. These are volunteers who would assist students, hospital workers, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), and the general public during emergencies.
“They will also assist in facility services, risk management and safety services, by reporting conditions of buildings that could present hazards during emergencies.
“They will also maintain orderly evacuation; conduct a sweep of an area to ensure that evacuation is complete.”
The director-general also stated that the marshals were expected to participate in debriefings, resulting from evacuations and complete monthly checklist on fire safety issues in their areas.
On flood control, Idriss said: “The FCT has become a standard in flood control in the country. This is because of a drastic reduction in the impact of flooding.
“We attribute this development to early warning and massive public sensitisation on what to do before the rains, during the rains and after the rains.
“We also issued early warnings, in line with the impact-based seasonal climate predictions by NIMET, and the annual flood outlook issued by the Nigeria Hydrological Agency,” he said.
The director-general said that in 2022, FEMA responded to 42 distress calls on the 112 emergency toll free numbers.
“This shows a marked reduction to the 2021 situation where we had 173 distress calls. I want to attribute this reduction to the massive sensitization of residents.
“In 2022, 270 lives were rescued from various flood incidents reported through 16 distress calls via the 112 emergency toll-free number,” he said.
Idriss assured the FCT residents of the commitment of the agency to protecting their lives and property, following the reduction of FEMA response time from five minutes to three minutes.