By OKUNADE ADEKUNLE
It was a sad day for the residents of Gloryland estate in Isheri-Idimu area of Egbe Idimu Local Council Development Area (LCDA) in Lagos as multiple pipeline explosion gut the environment as early as 7:30am on Thursday.
The fire outbreak whose cause was traced to incessant pipeline vandalism by unidentified persons, caused alot of damages as it burnt the plank bridges that were built by the communities connecting each other for easy movement among the residents of the communities.
The pipeline explosion which spread to neighbouring communities like Idowu-Egba plank bridge and Lanre/Oko-oloyun plank bridge burnt a prophet and one of his worshipers who were at the stream at Iyana Odo to do spiritual cleansing.
According to an eye witness, a guard at the Iyana Odo plank bridge approached the prophet and his worshiper not to carry out their spiritual cleansing at the stream due to oil spillage but they refused and told the guard that it was their third spiritual cleansing which must be carried out to avert danger.
The eye witness further explained that based on the explanation given by the prophet, the guard later allowed them to carry out the spiritual cleansing exercise in which the duo were engulfed in the fire that had initially sparked at the point of vandalism by the vandals.
He explained that it was not the first time they would be experiencing such incident in the community, stating that the security agencies around the environment had failed to curtail the activities of the vandals.
Speaking with journalists, a community leader, Iya Oba, lamented the incessant pipeline vandalism in the area, saying that their life was at risk because of the activities of the vandals.
Iya Oba stated that the stream was constantly used by prophets for spiritual cleansing but pipeline vandalism was their great challenges in the environment.
She stressed that the community and security agencies had made efforts to curtail the activities but to no avail, imploring government to come to their aid.
She added that the burnt plank link bridge would affect the easy free-flow of residents between the linked communities, calling on government to build a standard link bridge in the area.
Iya Oba added ” We are entitled to good life and enjoyment of good governance because we come out enmass to cast our votes during elections. Government should consider us too in this area and find lasting solution to this incessant pipeline vandalism. We are tired of it”
” The security agents stationed at the pipeline point are not doing their job appropriately. We cannot sleep peacefully because we will be scared of fire outbreak. We can’t sell in our shops again. These vandals scoop fuel in daytime and in the midnight which we must not complain or talk because of fear of attack. The police don’t do their job as well because they only come here to make indiscriminate arrest of our youths after the vandalism exercise. As it is, we will not tolerate the indiscriminate arrest of our youths because there were security agencies stationed at the pipeline line where vandalism occurred”, said Iya Oba
She explained ” This fire outbreak started around 7:30am and it had been spilling for one week now and we informed the police but they will tell us not to worry anytime they come to the place. The man arrested was the one in charge of cleaning of the stream and collection of toll fee, he was not part of the vandals. Those vandalising the pipeline are yet to be arrested, why is it that they did not arrest the vandals?”
” Government should help us and we don’t want police to start arresting our youths indiscriminately because of this. We don’t engage in pipeline vandalism, we earn a living legitimately through trading”, said Iya Oba
The Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations in Lagos State, DCP Ali Mohammed, who visited the scene of the incident alongside the Area Commander of Area M and Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Idimu Police Station, said residents of the area should quickly alert the police immediately they notice vandalism of pipeline is about to occur, saying that the police is accessible and available twenty-four hours.
Mohammed assured the residents of police proactiveness, stating that any information given to the security agency would be treated with confidentiality.
” For us as an organization will always do the best we can and that is the assurance I am giving them now. Should they see anything like that they should pass information on time . If they can’t pass it to anybody within the local level , they should make it easy. We are very accessible and available twenty-four hours . Our telephone numbers are out there, the control room numbers are there . Reach us on phone and we will be here”, said Mohammed
In a reaction to the incident, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said preliminary reports of the incident indicated that the pipeline might have been torched by act of vandalism of suspected oil thieves who had hacked into the line to intercept flow of petrol.
According to a statement by the acting spokesperson of the NNPC, Samson Makoji,, “NNPC, in conjunction with the Lagos State Fire Service, had deployed various categories of personnel to the scene to bring the fire under control.
“NNPC assured the general public that the pipeline will be put back into operation shortly, while the breach has no impact on petroleum products supply in the area.”
He also confirmed that the corporation has 116million litres of PMS in Mosimi Depot, 7.5million litres in Satellite Depot and 35million litres in Ibadan depots, all within System 2B network.