Timely intervention of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the National Emergency Management Agency have prevented what would have been another major disaster in Ijegun area of Lagos State due to oil spillage
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Feb. 17, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
EVELYN Adeoti, a resident of the Ijegun area of Lagos State, is happy that the oil spillage that occurred in the community on Sunday, January 20, did not cause fire outbreak. She said that many residents evacuated their homes when an alarm was raised that an oil pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, burst open and spill a large quantity of petrol in the community. Adeoti relocated to Idumi out of fear of a possible recurrence of the raging inferno which happened in the area five years ago as a result of oil spill killing many people and destroying properties worth millions of naira.
“When people raised the alarm that there was oil spill, I initially thought it was a minor thing. But when I saw the magnitude of the incident, I had to go to my sister’s place at Idimu. I returned the next day thinking that the spill would have been mopped up, but I was horrified when I saw that the whole place smelt of petrol,” she said. Adeoti also lamented that it took her days to cook after the incident. “How can I cook with the smell of petrol all over the place? I am afraid for my life and that of my son,” she said.
Segun Badiru, another resident, want the NNPC to do something about the spill in order to prevent a disaster. “NNPC or PPMC should come to our rescue. We cannot continue like this. Many people have deserted their homes in fear. People are squatting all over the place. The government should please come to our aid. Our properties are not safe because hoodlums would take advantage of the situation to rob deserted houses,” he said.
Realnews learnt that residents of the community were able to prevent people from scooping fuel to prevent a fire outbreak. Business activities in the area were affected as a result of the incident. The Lagos State Fire Service also helped in preventing vehicles from passing through the area and residents from cooking or doing anything that could cause a fire outbreak. The emergency officials said the pipelines may have weakened due to the presence of buildings which had encroached on the pipelines’ right of way. They said that the law stipulated that no structure must be erected within less than 30 metres from the pipelines, but some residents had broken the law and had even constructed houses within less than 15 metres from the pipelines.
Ibrahim Farinloye, spokesperson, National Emergency Management Agency, south-west zone, said the valves were being blocked to prevent further spillage. He said by preventing a fire outbreak, about 150 residents had been saved. “The leakage began around midnight but we were informed around 2pm on Sunday, January 26. The pipeline ruptured and the area was flooded. Over 150 people were saved from the risk of fire disaster. The community had prevented scooping of fuel to avoid a fire outbreak. However, the right of way of pipelines had been encroached upon and all sign posts indicating danger had been removed by the land owners. They are posing a risk to themselves and adventurous children,” he said.
However, the oil spillage has been attributed to the activities of pipeline vandals, who hacked into a product pipeline in the area. The NNPC and its midstream operator, the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, said the Ijegun area has always been notorious for the activities of oil thieves, who had incessantly hacked into pipelines with the aim of stealing products.
Omar Farouk Ibrahim, acting group general manager public affairs division, NNPC, also said that the Ijegun area had always been very notorious for the activities of oil thieves who have incessantly hacked into pipelines with the aim of stealing products. “We wish to acknowledge oil spill from our pipeline at the Ijegun area in Lagos, and to state that the unfortunate incident is a result of pipeline sabotage by people suspected to be oil thieves. Lately, we have been experiencing a rise in the incidents of pipeline vandalism on the Ijegun section of our pipeline and we are doing our best to fix them as soon as they are noticed. In this month alone, we have located and fixed 73 ruptured points on that Mosimi – Ijegun – Atlas Cove line,” he said.
According to Ibrahim, the entire stretch of the pipeline was replaced in 2010. He, therefore, ruled out the possibility that the rupture may have been as a result of the old age of the pipeline. The NNPC spokesman assured that the PPMC engineers have since been mobilised to the area to contain the spill, locate and fix the ruptured points. “Despite the difficult nature of the terrain, our engineers are working relentlessly to fix the damaged line. They are doing everything to contain the spill and stop it from spreading to cause more environmental damage. We therefore call on members of the public not to go near the area for safety reasons.”
He urged members of the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious movement around pipelines to the law enforcement agencies and to support NNPC in its fight against oil theft and pipeline vandalism. “When incidents like this occur, they do not just lead to disruption in the petroleum products supply system and cause hardship for the ordinary hardworking citizens, they have long-lasting devastating effects on the environment which could affect future generations.”
It would be recalled that on May 16, 2008, a pipeline explosion occurred in the community. It reported that the explosion took place after a bulldozer struck an oil pipeline. Construction workers accidentally broke an underground pipeline from which fuel started to spill out; moments later an explosion occurred. The fire started from the Isolo end of Ijegun, which spread to surrounding homes and schools. It reportedly spread through buildings with occupants inside. There was contradiction on the number of causalities, the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency puts the death toll at ten, the Nigerian Red Cross claims at least 100 people have died, while other accounts stated that the number of the dead is 39, including school children.