Fuel Scarcity: The danger in storing fuel in houses


“Prevention is better than cure”. So says a popular adage

Another adage says that it is better and cheaper to prevent a disaster than to manage or redeem it.

One of the good things Nigerians have enjoyed from the Seven years old administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had been the absence of fuel scarcity in the Country. However, this record was cut short recently. Unfortunately, Nigerians are now experiencing some level of hardship occasioned by scarcity of Petrol also known as Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

In the past, scarcity of this product led a lot of people to buying and preserving of the scarce commodity at residential houses, shops in commercial premises and vehicles. Such act or methods of preserving fuel had led to the death of many people and destruction  of many properties. There had been sad reports of fire outbreak in various markets and other business premises in Nigeria, traced to preservation of petrol in shops. Scarcity of fuel had also led some motorists travelling to long distances to store petrol in jerry cans and kept in their vehicles. Such vehicles and their occupants were consumed by fire in time (s) of accident [s]; even in accidents that  were supposed to be minor. It is good to learn from past experiences, especially negative ones like the fire outbreak that have emanated from the storage of petrol in residential houses and business premises, to prevent future occurrences.

Below are other reasons why petrol should not be stored in residential houses ;

  1. Production of vapors.

Most petrol produce very hazardous vapor which can be very dangerous to humans. As compared to air, gas vapors are heavier. When they are released, their fumes travel downward and concentrate on areas found in a closed environment .Something as small as a water heater or engine spark can easily result to  fire outbreak . Another risk of the presence of fuel vapor in residential houses is the act of breathing it in. According to medical experts, prolonged exposure to vapor from gasoline can cause asphyxiation and death.

2. Potential explosion.

Explosions can also result from stored fuel and gasoline. Storage of petrol or gasoline in houses can cause explosions as a result of excessive heat . Vapor exposed to an ignition source or direct contact with fire can cause a spark that can result to a regretful explosion in houses.

3. Inadvertent exposure.

Storage of petrol or gasoline in residential houses can expose children to a great risk. Children by their nature indulge in experiments. They can ignorantly decide to play with the fuel that has been stored. Adults can also inadvertently expose themselves to such risk .For instance, many people don’t know that when skin comes in direct contact with propane, it [skin] will get instantaneous freezer burn.

Most of the points highlighted above are known by many Nigerians who still go ahead to store the highly flammable products in their houses. Should they really be blamed for that risky act when the products are scarce? The commercial vehicle operators need the products, just as those using private vehicles. The Federal Government of Nigeria has consistently maintained that there is enough petrol in circulation. Yet only few petrol stations are dispensing the products to members of the public.  At such stations, prices of the products are abnormally high. Why are the two products[ diesel and petrol] scarce in the country or not easily accessed?

There is need for the Federal Government to monitor the supply or distribution of petroleum products to petrol stations .  Task force should also be set up by state governments to monitor the illegal activities of petrol station owners who may deliberately hoard the products to sell at exorbitant prices.

There have been some allegations that some owners of petrol stations do divert their allocations to neighbouring countries where they are said to enjoy higher prices. Government agencies like the Nigerian Customs, Nigerian Immigration Service, the Nigeria Police and the National Security and Civil Defense Corps should tackle such illegality.

In spite of the present scarcity of fuel, Nigerians are through this piece advised against the storing of gasoline or petrol in the residential or business complexes. Many lives and properties have been lost in the past due to storage of flammable petroleum products in houses. We all need to learn from such sad experiences and avert future occurrences. Life is very precious and has no duplicate. We therefore need to do all that are possible to protect and preserve it (life).

By Stella Adu