pipe­line van­dals putting our lives in dan­ger –la­gos com­mu­nity res­i­dents

The Punch - - SATURDAY STORY - Femi Makinde

Na­tional as­sets in Nige­ria are con­stantly un­der at­tack from van­dals and eco­nomic sabo­teurs and at times with the sup­port of in­sid­ers. The ac­tiv­i­ties of van­dals have re­sulted in a huge loss of lives and re­sources with pipe­line ex­plo­sions ac­count­ing for a larger per­cent­age of th­ese losses.

Another pipe­line which re­sulted into de­struc­tion of lives and prop­erty oc­curred in Baruwa area of La­gos State on De­cem­ber 5. Res­i­dents of the Baruwa area of La­gos and Ish­eri raised the alarm as fire raged through the swamp in the area as a re­sult of an ex­plo­sion which oc­curred af­ter the NNPC pipe­line in Baruwa was rup­tured by van­dals.

A leader of a white-gar­ment church had reportedly led two per­sons to a sec­tion of the swamp for spir­i­tual cleans­ing be­fore the fire started. While they were in­side the river, hood­lums tam­pered with the pipe­line and fuel spilled flow­ing down the river. Obliv­i­ous of this, one of the three peo­ple on the spir­i­tual cleans­ing ex­er­cise was said to have struck a match to light a can­dle which was part of the ac­tiv­i­ties for the spir­i­tual cleans­ing ex­er­cise.

The match ig­nited a fire and the whole area was en­gulfed in a fire killing one of them, another was badly in­jured and the leader reportedly es­caped al­though seared.

The fire which raged through the swampy area de­stroyed ev­ery­thing on its path and the two wooden bridges which link Ish­eri with Baruwa was partly de­stroyed by the fire. This de­struc­tion has made res­i­dents of the ar­eas close to the pipe­line cried to gov­ern­ment and se­cu­rity agents to be more vig­i­lant in pro­tect­ing the fa­cil­i­ties.

The Pres­i­dent of Di­a­mond Es­tate

Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion, Mr Olani­ran Ola­soji, told our cor­re­spon­dent in an in­ter­view the pipe­line did not pass through the es­tate but any­time there was a leak­age as a re­sult of van­dals’ ac­tiv­i­ties fuel flowed down the swamp and this posed a great dan­ger to res­i­dents of the es­tate es­pe­cially those whose houses were very close to the swamp.

He said the ex­plo­sion oc­curred less than a week the as­so­ci­a­tion in­vited fire ex­perts to train res­i­dents of Di­a­mond Es­tate on how to han­dle fire.

“We do not know the iden­ti­ties of those who rup­tured the pipe­line. The pipe­line does not pass through our es­tate, but we are un­der threat of the ac­tiv­i­ties of van­dals.

“We al­ways tell res­i­dents of houses close to the swamp not to burn any­thing be­cause such might cause an ex­plo­sion if there is a leak­age.

“Pipe­line van­dals are putting ev­ery­body’s life at risk and when fuel flows down the swamp and there is fire along the path, the fire can spread any­where.

That was why we called the En­vi­ron­men­tal and Safety De­part­ment of the NNPC when the last one hap­pened. We al­ways call them any­time we start smelling fuel odor. We usu­ally asked them to check their fa­cil­i­ties and see if there any­thing wrong with it.

“We called the NNPC of­fi­cials each time we smelled petrol and ask them to come, and check the pipe­line if there was a rup­ture of leak­age there.

“We used to look at thick smoke bil­low­ing into the sky each time there was an ex­plo­sion as a re­sult of ac­tiv­i­ties of pipe­line van­dals. But the fire burned through the swamp and came close to our es­tate this time.

“This is be­cause some struc­tures have been built im­me­di­ately at the back of our fence. I think th­ese struc­tures are il­le­gal be­cause I don’t know who will give ap­proval that houses should be built on the flood­plain. But we are ask­ing that the gov­ern­ment should come and check if the struc­tures there have ap­provals. With houses on the flood­plain, if there is a leak­age there may be an ex­plo­sion and the tragedy that may re­sult would be mas­sive. The gov­ern­ment has to pre­vent this.”

Another res­i­dent of the es­tate, Fo­lasade Adeoye, told our cor­re­spon­dent that se­cu­rity agen­cies should step up their sur­veil­lance in the area to pre­vent van­dals from fur­ther putting the lives of the peo­ple around in dan­ger.

Adeoye said, “I think they can use a drone to mon­i­tor the pipe­line and the ma­chine should be de­ployed night and day. With this se­cu­rity agents would know even be­fore any il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity is car­ried out there.”

One of the res­i­dents of Baruwa area, Taye Adeniyi, told our cor­re­spon­dent that the ne­glect of the area by the gov­ern­ment was one of the rea­sons why hood­lums al­ways have a field day break­ing pipe­line and si­phon­ing fuel with ease.

Adeniyi said, “You can see that the roads that con­nect this area, ( Ish­eri) Baruwa is not tarred. There is no bridge across the swamp ex­cept the two wooden bridges built by pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als on which tolls are paid. If you do not want to pay tolls on the wooden bridges, then you will have to go through Egbeda to Baruwa which is much longer and time-wast­ing be­cause of the traf­fic snarl you will en­counter.

“The two wooden bridges are partly dam­ages by the pipe­line fire, and this is a threat to com­muters in two ar­eas.”

A com­mer­cial mo­tor­cy­clist ply­ing Iseri-baruwa, Moruf Ta­judeen, ex­pressed fear that break­ing of the pipe­line had been go­ing on for a long time in the area, say­ing gov­ern­ment and se­cu­rity agen­cies needed to pay more at­ten­tion to the area to stop steal­ing of fuel and de­struc­tion of lives and prop­er­ties which usu­ally fol­lowed.

Taju said, “NNPC should be more se­ri­ous in pro­tect­ing the pipe­line. If there are in­sid­ers in the cor­po­ra­tion, they should look for a way to sack them. Th­ese pipe­line van­dals are putting our lives at risk, and this must be stopped.”

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