Panic in Lagos community over fuel leakage, broken pipeline
At a time when the nation is grappling with fuel scarcity occasioned by subsidy removal, residents of Akamo Street in Ijegun area of Lagos State and its environs are in panic over the leakage of Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited pipeline in the area.
They are worried that the worst may happen if authorities do not act fast.
The pipelines, which supply Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as Petrol from Atlas Cove to Inland depots erupted on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, at about 8:00a.m.
Before now, pipeline leakage occasioned by vandalism has remained a regular occurrence in the area.
But residents denied vandalism, stressing that the pipelines are old.
According to a resident, Tajudeen Omotoso Ayinde, it is glaring that the pipelines are not in good condition, while officials of NNPC always come around without attending to the situation.
He said: “They always promise to come back but never return to fix anything.
“They came here three days ago (Sunday) and left. I think they want us to be roasted by fire or they think we are not useful. We are taxpayers; we pay tenement fees and contribute to community development, but they don’t care about us.
“We have been speaking with them since last year and it’s only the Community Development Association (CDA) and tipper drivers that pour sand and do concrete over the pipelines most of the time. No one could sleep since this incident occurred because of the attendant danger. Government should come to our aid.”
Speaking with The Guardian, Chairman, Judeyibu Estate CDA, Muyiwa Akinwumi, said they had written several letters to the NNPC and their traditional ruler, Oba Akinremi, over the exposed pipelines in the community without the needed attention.
He said: “ Two years ago, we did concrete to cover some of the pipelines, but they got exposed after a while because of the impact of heavy-duty vehicles plying the road.
“Most of the pipelines passing through our community are old and rusty. About 15 months ago a pipe busted due to rust; they should replace the pipes entirely and consider the safety of our people.”
Also, chairman of Isokan CDA, Mudashiru Olayemi Asaka, said: “This is the fourth incident and we have tried all means to find a lasting solution to the issue, but the same thing happened on Tuesday due to lack of response from NNPC.
When asked if Lagos State government has been alerted to the need to cover up the exposed pipelines, he said: “The state government awarded contract for the construction of a road two years ago, which could have helped cover the exposed pipelines and stopped the occasional leakages.
“Our Kabiyesi has given assurance of meeting the government on the issue.”
Asaka, who is also the chairman of all the chairmen in Ijegun, said the Kabiyesi had ordered the town crier to tell the people what to do, and the need for people to vacate the area, which many have done. “No one is lighting fire around the area because of the inherent dangers. We are meeting tomorrow (today) because of the issue and we will have a joint CDA general meeting on Saturday to discuss how to find a lasting solution to the problem,” he said.
When The Guardian visited the scene yesterday, security agencies, including the Nigeria Police, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC), Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service (LSFR) and leaders of the community were on ground and barricaded the area.
Residents around Church Street, Iyanu Celestial Church, and the Canal were also instructed not to put on any stove and generator as the leaked pipelines continue to gush out PMS in the area.
Despite the presence of security agencies, members of the community claimed that officials of the NNPC did not get to the scene until 6:00p.m. on Tuesday.
The residents also claimed that the NNPC maintenance team never bothers to engage members of the community whenever they come for an inspection.
When approached at the palace of Onijegun of Ijegun, Oba Nureni Akinremi, two officials of NNPC declined to comment on the issue.
Also, NNPC Community Liaison Officer (CLO), Lagos and Ogun State, Joseph Komolafe turned down requests to speak on the matter.