BY LEKE ADESERI, REGIONAL EDITOR, S-WEST & BOSE ADELAJA
LAGOS — Residents of atleast 150 buildings were rescued from a disaster zone around the Satelite area of Ijegun town in Lagos State in the past two days.
A ruptured pipeline reportedly let out large quantity of fuel into Ijegun-Imore community, causing residents to scamper for safety.
Meantime, some residents of the community, yesterday, demanded compensation from the Pipeline Products and Marketing Company, PPMC, for damages they incurred following the ruptured oil pipeline.
The incident which occurred between last Sunday and Monday threw occupants of the buildings into panic before they were finally rescued by emergency responders from the state and federal agencies after a distress call.
National Emergency Management Authority, NEMA, said it received a distress call around 7.23 am on Sunday and quickly passed the information to appropriate authorities.
NEMA South-West Information Officer, Ibrahim Farinloye, said supply sources and valves had been blocked before emergency responders were able to access the area.
According to him, 150 residential buildings were saved from the risk of fire disaster as the ruptured pipes were prevented from supplying fuel into them.
The rupture was said to have been discovered on Saturday while the community prevented scooping of fuel but did not invite emergency responders until Sunday.
Farinloye said the rights of way of the pipelines had been encroached and all signposts indicating dangers had been removed by land owners, thereby posing a risk to people, especially adventurous children.
Vanguard gathered that due to the swampy nature of the area, NEMA and other emergency responders could not easily access the ruptured pipelines and the operation was suspended for a while, until a swamp-machine was moved to the area to carry out repair works which eventually took place on Monday.
“Supply sources and valves have been shut while some security operatives have been deployed to carry out vigil in the area,” Farinloye said.
Also, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, was said to have commenced cleaning, Monday, while normalcy had returned to the land.
Residents demand compensation
Some residents of the community said the oil spill was caused by negligence to monitor the pipeline network by the concerned agency.
A traditional leader, Mr Nurudeen Olu-Fatunbi, said Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, should compensate residents of the community for not repairing the ruptured pipeline for more than a year.
Olu-Fatunbi said that the community had reported the incidence to PPMC without any response.
According to him, there is the need for government to embark on total clean up of the community because “we don’t want to lose our valuable items. The spill had caused economic hardship to the people of the area.
“We are pleading with the company to urgently take steps to clean up the spill and send relief materials to us,” he said.
Another resident, Mr Sunny Onotor, a former NNPC staff, said there was the need for management of PPMC to ensure prompt monitoring of its pipeline network to curb incessant vandalism.
Onotor also advised PPMC to provide dedicated phone lines to all host communities where they have pipeline network channels for prompt attention during issues surrounding its operations.
He said: “Government needs to compensate us over their negligence to protect their pipelines; our community has been polluted due to the spillage.
“Majority of residents have vacated the community due to ongoing pollution of the environment and hazardous nature of oil spill to human health.”
We won’t pay compensation —PPMC
The Manager, Public Affairs and External Relations of PPMC, Mr Nasir Imodagbe said that the ruptured pipeline resulted from an act of vandalism.
Imodagbe said the agency would not pay any compensation to any community which was supposed to assist government in protecting pipelines against vandalism, but was rather conniving with vandals.
“As I speak with you, our men are seriously excavating the place to bring out the vandalised pipeline and commence repairs.”