The recent pipeline explosion that rocked the Ekoro area of Abule-Egba, Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State, on Sunday, January 19, 2020 like previous sad ones, left behind sorrow, tear and unimaginable countless losses.
Five irreplaceable lives were recorded lost, 59 other vehicles mostly trucks were burnt in the inferno aside several houses that were engulfed by fire caused by the activities of petroleum pipeline vandals.
In 2013, the federal government lamented that it was losing a whopping 180,000 barrels of oil to ruptured pipelines and vandalism amounting to over 360 billion naira over three years.
Recall that pipeline vandalism in Nigeria came into national limelight on October 18, 1998, when a vandalised pipeline in Jesse, Delta State, exploded, killing over 1,000 people.
Since this incident, thousands of Nigerians have lost their lives through pipeline fire and its attendant explosion.
The recent Abule Egba explosion was as usual, reportedly caused by the activities of vandals, who ruptured the pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in the area in a bid to steal fuel.
The explosion was said to have occurred during the operation around 8.00pm and sent shivers down the spines of residents who scampered for safety.
According to the Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Dr Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, five fatalities involving three adult males, one female, and a five-year-old child were recorded.
He stated that no fewer than 20 people who sustained minor injuries were given on the spot treatment, adding that the fire incident had displaced over 150 people.
Oke-Osanyintolu said, “Five fatalities including three adult males, one adult female, and a five-year-old child were discovered. Also, 20 people were treated for minor injuries and discharged at the scene, while 150 people including children were displaced.
“The buildings affected are a storey building at No 18 Musa Erimo Street and four buildings, including a storey building and three bungalows on No 1, No 2, No 7 and No 20, Joel Nnadede Street, in Ekoro. Also, on Hamed Sodiq Street, a two-storey building on No 2 and two bungalows on No 4 and No 8 were affected, while on the NNPC power line road, three bungalows on No 45, No 47 and No 49 were razed.
“17 shops and 39 vehicles including 33 trucks, three cars and three tricycles were also affected.”
Is this how we forge on?
Security lapses largely contributed to the emergence of the dastardly act even as residents of the pipeline neighbourhood are also said to be complicit in the act leading to vandalism
A young man was at the scene of Agile pointing accusing fingers at the men and officers of the NSCDC of playing to the gallery anytime the vandals came around.
The officers were mum as the young man pointedly accused them of negligence and abetting the illegality.
On the other hand, residents and community leaders where these nefarious activities take place have the greatest role to play in alerting security officials whenever the vandals are on the prowl.
Information has it that some of the residents and community leaders benefit from the spoil.
In addition, the commando style with which the vandals storm the venue of their dubious work often comes with jitters in the spine of the residents and security operatives whose weapons are inferior to what the vandals equip themselves with.
These are the factors that often give vandals field day in their activities.
The government needs to fathom a lasting solution to wanton loss of lives through this nefarious act of some individuals.
NNPC should protect the pipelines by deploring modern day technology.
The days of physical surveillance of pipelines are gone. Modern high end technologically driven devices with sensors, drones etc should be deplored.
Furthermore, our security operatives should be better equipped as well as bringing any resident or community leader found culpable to book as deterrent to others.
Perhaps the observation of the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr Mele Kyari, when he made an on-the-spot assessment should be well implemented.
Kyari solicited the cooperation of all Nigerians, especially those residing close to the pipelines, in the corporation’s effort towards combating pipeline vandalism.
There is the need for all hands to be on deck towards ending the criminal activity of the vandals blindfolded by their greed without consideration for human life.
The NNPC Boss hit the nail on the head when he said, “These activities are happening within communities. People are aware of what is happening, and if we allow them to continue doing what they are doing, they will kill all of us and everybody along this corridor will be affected.
“Therefore, we do need the help and cooperation of all members of the community to expose these people when they come.
“We are counting on Nigerians to help us resolve this because it is a major national security concern.”
Our security agents too should expose the black sheep in their folds by appointing a monitor to monitor the monitor.
The time is now when leaders should take the bull by the horns and appreciate the security of life and property as everyone’s business by reporting what we see to enforcement agencies before the deed is done
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