[Opinion] Defiled LPG: Buyers beware!

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by Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi
Before we hear an explosion in another part of the country different
from their hotbeds and think that the boko haram sect has enlarged its
frontiers, let us know that we have an off-specification commodity in
this country with the tendency of creating a devastating impact
similar to their craft.

This bootleg goods refers to the adulterated cooking gas imported into
the country from Niger Republic by some businessmen without
scrupulousness. In the stead of cooking gas, they have imported
imminent deaths into Nigeria in a sheer bid to widen their profit
margin!

Imminent deaths because the Niger-sourced Liquefied Petroleum Gas(LPG)
otherwise known as cooking gas has a greater proportion of the highly
explosive propane than the LPG sourced from the Nigeria Liquefied
Natural Gas(NLNG) Limited and refineries within the country which
consists mostly of the less dangerous butane.

Experts and industry players say the cooking gas coming in from Niger
Republic contained 45 per cent butane and 55 per cent propane,
stressing that the 55 per cent propane content was very high and is
characterised by intense pressure.

As at last year, the Chairman LPG Group, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and
Industry- Mr Bambo Ademiluyi had said, “Propane is stored at a higher
pressure. Most of our vessels, tanks and cylinders are not designed to
store that level of propane. We are not used to such level of
pressure.”

This subject was substantially buttressed at the Annual General
Meeting of the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas
Marketers (NALPGM) which held in Lagos last Tuesday. There, the
outgoing president of the Association- Mr Mouruff Onabule who
confirmed the circulation of the dangerous LPG in Nigeria warned
NALPGM members to desist from patronising the variant from Niger
Republic.

Also speaking, the National President of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Reps
Association of Nigeria- Mr Odo Gbolahan belaboured the fact that the
pressure of the gas imported from Niger Republic was four times higher
than that of the cooking gas used in Nigeria.

According to him, “The propane gas they are bringing from the Niger
axis is four times the pressure of the gas that is meant to be used in
Nigeria. The propane gas is meant to be used in the Western world with
cold climate because the rate at which the LPG will be evaporating in
that place is very low. The propane is not meant for Nigeria with hot
climate because the pressure can burst cylinders and hoses.”

But given that the situation is this dire and that it has lasted for a
while, why are we yet to record any publicised case of an explosion
caused by the adulterated cooking gas. I guess this is one of the
instances where our intercessory prowess pays off.

It is a common knowledge that no other nation comes close to us in
terms of our devotion to religion. We are so religious that our
bigotry begets us doing unimaginable things for our faith but when it
comes to living the morally-sound life advocated by our religions we
falter.

Little wonder we have con-businessmen who place more premium on profit
than on the life of a fellow human. But what shall it profit a
businessman if he makes all the money and in the process cause the
death of others? Absolutely nothing but ultimate woes and eternal
damnation!

Like I was saying, it isn’t as if the mischief of these perverse
marketers couldn’t cause mayhem. Our prayers for God’s protection must
have kept the danger in the loop. Even the prayer of a neighbour who
wouldn’t want himself and his belongings consumed, should the dreaded
happened, could have made it appear as if there is no danger inherent
in the debased product.

But we can’t continue this way and expect the Almighty to watch our
front when we can effectively handle that. Yes, it has become a case
of asking Him to watch our front because some are in the know of the
imminent danger attached to buying the risk-filled LPG yet they go for
it because it appears cheaper. But they forget the dictum that a cheap
commodity isn’t cheap after all and even forget that of pigeon English
version which held that, “awuf dey run belle.”

Though a truism that the cooking gas currently being supplied by the
NLNG and Nigerian refineries is exorbitant, it doesn’t warrant the
marketers selling to Nigerians an LPG of 15 bars when what is
recommended for our environment is that of five bars. Shouldn’t the
welfare and safety of our people rank more than whatever money or
returns a marketer stands to make?

Some have reasoned that the criticisms is just a propaganda aimed at
favouring the NLNG in the competition between it and its rival’s
product coming in from elsewhere. However, while this may be true,
different experts and other stakeholders have at least adduced
unassailable justification that should make us want to tow the path of
safety.

If the foregoing is the truth, then should the marketers involved in
the vicious act be made to know that they are not different from the
boko haram adherents who have unleashed countless deaths and terror on
this country. Both parties stands to share the same nemesis in an
event of the wicked marketers’ greed effecting any explosion!

It is greatly unacceptable for stakeholders, especially the hierarchy,
to warn its members to desist from patronising the LPG sourced from
Niger Republic and leave it at that. The lures of quick cash can
easily make members with banal virtue not to heed such warnings.

They should set up a task force that will see to it that the consumers
are not allowed to buy deaths or danger in the name of buying cooking
gas. Where such a task force exists, it should be emboldened to bite
and not just bark.

The federal government cannot be left out in the face of this sharp
practise gaining grounds among marketers of LPG. It should as a matter
of necessity crash the price of the locally-sourced LPG so that the
perverse marketers will have nothing to hold on to in luring gullible
consumers to its side.

Government agencies like the Standard Organisation of Nigeria(SON),
under whose remit squarely falls this issue, should step up their pace
in removing substandard LPG from the reach of consumers. The consumer
themselves should apply caution when buying cooking gas so as not to
buy a product that would be detrimental to them and those around them.

Ugochukwu writes from Lokoja, you can reach him on [email protected]

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