Lilongwe: National Oil Company of Malawi Limited (NOCMA) is championing efforts that will make communities around its fuel reserves facilities more responsible in reducing risks that may cause fire outbreaks.
On Friday, NOCMA held a capacity building meeting with traditional leaders around its Kanengo fuel reserves premises in Lilongwe, to raise awareness on safety measures as regards the fuel tanks. The tanks have a maximum storage capacity of 25 million liters.
The meeting focused on how the communities in conjunction with NOCMA can best avoid risks of fires and what to do and not to in case of fire accidents and/or fuel leakages.
NOCMA Communications Officer, Telephorus Chigwenembe, said capacity building is one of the strategies the company is using for it and the communities to have the same understanding as far as safety from fires is concerned.
We realize that the product that we keep in our fuel reserves can be dangerous if we are not careful. For example, petrol can easily catch fire. We have heard of incidents where people were trying to siphon fuel from tankers but sadly, fires erupted and had disastrous ending like death and injuries.
So we felt it is good to engage the communities so that they may be aware of the safety measures they may need to undertake to remain safe, said Chigwenembe.
He said the campaign has not originated from any worrisome activities but that prevention was better than cure.
That is why we want to be proactive so that nothing worrisome happens. We are hopeful the traditional leaders will take these messages to their people, he said.
According to the communications officer, NOCMA already has fire fighting machinery at all its strategic fuel reserves which can fight fire for up to six hours in absence of the fire fighting department amongst other responses to fire accidents.
Senior Group Village Head Chimoka said this was a very important activity as they had learnt a lot about fuel and fires, and the need of avoiding siphoning fuel from tankers involved in road accidents.
What happens is that if people siphon fuel and then fire erupts; the fire can follow the path of the dripping oil up to the places the fuel has been kept. This can cause a lot of damage and deaths in the involved communities the fuel is being kept.
As traditional leaders, we are going to use village meetings, funeral gatherings and any other means possible to make sure these messages reach our people, said GVH Chimoka.
Similar activities have already been conducted in Blantyre, Karonga and Mzuzu and are expected to be conducted quarterly.
In early May, this year at Chiweta, three people died and five sustained serious burns when a fuel tanker, which some people were trying to siphon fuel from after being involved in a road accident caught fire.
Source: Malawi News Agency MANA