AT least 22 city manufacturing plants have suffered severe damages from a fire caused by leaking gas within Ilala Municipality, the ‘Daily News’ has established.
A gas pipeline was accidentally punctured by a water pipe contractor late Tuesday evening and caused a huge fire that destroyed one house.
Pan African Energy Tanzania (PAET), the main natural gas supplier, says the accident affected at least 22 manufacturing firms, but added that technicians were working to restore normal pumping by noon yesterday.
“PAET is working hard to restore gas supply to those industries which have been affected,” the firm said in a statement yesterday.
The firm said maintenance was scheduled to take at least twelve (12) starting 0800 hours yesterday. The first team started working to restore natural gas supply to the 22 companies while trying to establish the cause of the incident.
“This is the first time that such an incident has occurred,” PAET said, adding that the company started producing natural gas for power generation in Tanzania, uninterrupted, over the past 14 years.
The cause of the fire, according to early indications, was triggered in the course of ‘excavation works’ being carried out by a contractor hired by DAWASCO to lay some water pipes.
The fire was ‘managed’ jointly by city fire brigade, police and PAET emergency response teamsPAET said they and the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) had carried out several campaigns to warn the public and companies of the dangers of working on or around the pipeline.
“The risks of ignoring those warnings and procedures are clear from what we have seen here,” the statement added. Meanwhile, residents of Mji Mpya at the Buguruni kwa Mnyamani area in Ilala District said they were unhappy about the existence of gas pipeline within their residences, in particular, expressing their dismay at the way DAWASCO officials were executing their duties.
People from all works of life convened to witness how the government officials were “contending with the situation” in the presence of the Ilala District Commissioner Sophia Mjema.
However, the Fire and Rescue Force came out strongly to ask the contractors involved in constructing infrastructure countrywide to give prior information on the areas prone to power emergencies, especially when digging up areas close to human habitat.
Temeke Fire and Rescue Force Commander, Leiser Lospy, told the ‘Daily News’ that his force would institute measures to extinguish fire even before it erupts. On Tuesday, technicians from DAWASCO accidentally chopped open a gas pipeline passing through the area, affecting the operations and paralysing business around the area.
Commenting, Mr Lopsy argued that if the DAWASCO officials had issued prior notice, it would have helped alert the fire and rescue force to act in time. “It is always better that our friends give us prior information … if they did so, we would have managed the situation on time,’’ he said.
TPDC Acting Director General, Engineer Kapulya Msoma said if DAWASCO had alerted his institution earlier, that fire would not have happened, insisting it would have taken initial precautions.