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We Have Proactive Measures To Prevent Disasters In Lagos –Oke-Osanyintolu, DG, LASEMA

Those are the 4Ps of the way we are operating our emergency services. The lacuna that we have is the orientation and attitude of our people and we have started working on that

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Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu is the Director-General of the Lagos State Emergency Agency. In this chat with the AN24.net, he reveals the proactive measures the Lagos State Government has put in place to minimise disaster outbreaks

Let us talk about fire incidents. We know that there are a lot of reactions when an incident happens. But what is the Lagos state government doing to prevent fire occurrences?

The government of Babajide Sanwo-olu has built the capacities of all the key stakeholders that are important in managing emergency. The government of Babajide has provided leadership and strong with respect to safety of lives and properties. Not only that he has geared up all the key stakeholders by visiting them, he has also carried out on-the-spot assessments of what they have in terms of infrastructure and in terms of capacity. He has audited the fire hydrants in the state. We have 275 fire hydrants in the state and we are trying to build more. He has commenced the sensitisation and awareness programme for the people of the state. With that, we are operating our emergency and fire services on 4 Ps; Public, Private, People and Progressiveness. Those are the 4Ps of the way we are operating our emergency services. The lacuna that we have is the orientation and attitude of our people and we have started working on that.

Although there is an agency in charge of fire management. But we know that anytime there is disaster of any sort in Lagos, you are a visible face in its management. You have told us what Lagos has but it seems to me that your agency and your sister agencies are more reactive than proactive? You spoke about orientation. How well orientated are our people? Why don’t we see radio jingles and television campaigns from your agency and other agencies to get our people to change their ways. Why don’t we see town hall meetings and grassroots engagement? Can you tell us exactly what you are doing to prevent not to manage now, to minimise the incidences of those disasters?

Let me tell you something, in Nigeria, in West Africa, it is only Lagos state that has a safety commission. And the commission has been charged to move downwards at the local level and moved horizontally to the private sector in terms of ensuring safety of lives and properties. Not only has the safety commission been charged, it has been equipped to do that. Now when we are talking about town hall meetings and engaging people, we have a local emergency management committee in place. We have volunteer groups, safety champions in place. We have the Boys Scouts and Red Cross in each of our local government areas. We carry peace and conflict resolution meetings every month in the local government areas. So, look at what we have put in place. You will discover that we have engaged the grassroots. The impact of any disaster is from the grassroots. So we built the resilience from the grass root. And that is why you can see for yourself the way we are responding to the Coronavirus. It is because we have built resilience in place and that is why we can easily respond to any form of emergency.

Not only are we in charge. We are on top so what we are appealing to the people of Lagos is that they should remain cool, calm and collected. They should never panic. We have what it takes to respond, mitigate and carry our people along, so we have been engaging them.

So, how do we measure the success of these engagements?

You can see the fire that is happening. Compare the fire incidences in Lagos with those of other states. The mortality associated with fire in Lagos has greatly reduced. Look at what happened at Kara about a week ago when a fire incident affected a petrol tanker. Do you know how many petrol tankers have had problems that did not lead to fire incidents? Do you know how many containers that fell around Lagos state that did not lead to fire incidents? Do you know what it takes to respond to the type of fire incident that occurred in Bariga? If it occurred in another state, all their houses could have gotten burnt because we were not dealing with a petrol station alone but about 1000 shops having 50 litres of petro-chemicals each.

This next question may not exactly be within your jurisdiction but since you are a disaster manager, you probably have something to say about it. About the recent Abule-Egba pipeline fire…we got the report those saboteurs were heavily armed and intimidated by law enforcement agencies. So can we say those of you also in emergency response are overwhelmed or intimidated by such report?

I coordinate 15 agencies. I am CEO of LASEMA. Now, nobody intimidates anybody, it is clear. In Lagos state, we have peace and conflict resolution meetings in our local government areas. How many times have they reported that case at the meetings? And to the best of my knowledge, we have emergency numbers, 112 and 767. And since I have been here, to the best of my knowledge, they have never reported any case to us

Are those emergencies numbers always available because some people call sometimes and say they don’t go through.

It is a technology problem. Even calls to your personal phone numbers down go through some times.We have the Traffic radio. We also have my own number

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