Tackling hazards associated with firewood, kerosene stove

As part of efforts to reduce the attendant health hazards associated with the use of firewood and kerosene stove for household and commercial, the Federal Government of Nigeria has been urged to boost the implementation of National Gas Policy by making liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), otherwise known as cooking gas abundantly available to everyone irrespective of socio-economic status.

This is coming o the heels of a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that “over 98,000 Nigerian women die annually from the use of firewood. If a woman cook breakfast, cook lunch, cook dinner, it is equivalent to smoking between three and 20 packets of cigarettes a day.”

Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Petroleum on Refineries, Downstream and Infrastructures, Brenda Ataga, told journalists at the ‘Upgrade to Gas’ Stakeholders Meeting convened by Africare Nigeria at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, that government is desirous of making gas available to everybody, to the poor and the rich, because it is the cheapest and safest means of cooking energy. “Gas is for everyone, it is a matter of perception about the cost of gas,” she said.

Atanga said the policy plan of the government is to break down gas retail into segments to make sure that people can access gas at their own level.

“We want a situation where you can buy N200 or N300 worth of gas if that is you can afford. What we are advocating is the ‘pay as you go’ system of gas purchase as we have in the telecommunications sector where everyone irrespective of age, sex or level of social or education use the GSM phone. This will ensure that everyone can afford the use of cooking with gas.”

But she called for a stricter regulation of gas retailing business stressing the need for players in gas marketing to comply with regulations laid down by the Department of Petroleum Regulation (DPR) for a safer environment and to curtail gas explosion and fire disasters.

Atanga said: “Government regulation stipulates where gas can be sold and the last man in the chain of sale for gas is the gas refilling plant which must be certified by the DPR, not gas cylinder retail cubicle on the roadside. It is important that Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) distil information to the general public on authorized places they can buy gas. Gas that is sold in refilling plant has been tested by DPR and certified as meeting the Nigerian standard.

“But it hard to say where the roadside retailers are coming from, they sell LPG the way people sell tyres on the road and that is totally unacceptable.”

Aliyu Mohammed of the DPR, Abuja Office said that government want to increase the use of gas because of the enormous gas potential that is available in the country and that utilization of gas will increase revenue and create more employment opportunities.

He said the use of gas is far below average in Africa but hoped that with the awareness initiative of organizations like Africare, usage of gas will be improved and attendant inconveniences of using charcoal or firewood bring such as inhaling of carbon monoxide and contamination of the environment will be drastically reduced.

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