By Akintola Omigbodun
Arepo, Ogun State is known for one of its residential estates whose development has been sponsored by the Nigerian Union of Journalists. The petroleum products pipelines passing through Arepo start from the Lagos Ports area, several kilometers to the south and west of Arepo. The pipelines cross the Lagos to Ibadan expressway north of the long concrete bridge at Warewa adjacent to Arepo, they continue in a north-easterly direction through Arepo before crossing the River Owuru.
Arepo is a developing community on either side of the pipelines and in recent years, the authorities have re-established the right-of-way of the pipelines through demolitions/removals of encroachments. In contrast, east of the River Owuru, there are no villages or human settlements within one kilometre on either side of the pipeline for a distance of at least two kilometres from the river.
Beyond this uninhabited area, the pipelines pass south of Ilara-Ajeregu, they reach the Ikodoru to Sagamu road between Labori and Kamalo and then continue to the NNPC depot, east of the Ikorodu to Sagamu road. The River Owuru has its origins north of the Redemption Camp, it crosses the Lagos to Ibadan expressway before reaching the Redemption Camp.
The river flows in a north-south direction through the Redemption Camp and it goes past Ebute Bonwu, Ebute Ojora, Arepo and into the Majidun creeks which discharge into the Lagos Lagoon.
Between Warewa and the Redemption Camp, the Lagos to Ibadan expressway is separated from the Ikorodu to Sagamu road by a distance of approximately 11km, the River Owuru lies between the two routes and effectively acts as a barrier to movement from one route to the other. Surveillance of the pipelines’ right-of-way has to be carried out as two separate operations, one operation from Warewa to the river and the other from the river to the NNPC depot.
Vandalisation of the pipelines has been an ever-present problem and early 2013, there was a major vandalisation event on the pipelines in the Arepo area accompanied by a huge fire and curtailment of fuel supplies to the public. Arepo has been in the news lately as there have been reports of a gunfight between the pipeline vandals and persons engaged to secure the pipelines. An Arepo resident on her way home was killed by a bullet from this gunfight.
The Ogun State Government, OGSG, should identify and acquire a land corridor for an east-west road link from the Ikorodu to Sagamu road to the Lagos to Ibadan expressway to provide access for resolving issues with the petroleum products pipelines. One such corridor could be from Ita-Oluwo through Imusin, Ajegunle, Bolorunduro, Imunti, Imegbon and in a north-westerly direction until the route crosses the petroleum products pipelines and next in a westerly direction with a bridge crossing of the River Owuru, and the route reaches the expressway between Arepo and Magboro.
The route should avoid the swampy areas through which the pipelines pass. The OGSG should also acquire land along the route in order to secure the pipelines and to ensure that development in the area adds significant value to the area. The road link, when constructed, would also provide a relief road taking traffic from the Lagos to Ibadan expressway to the Ikorodu to Sagamu road whenever traffic blockages occur on the expressway.
The opening up of the area on the other side of the river from Arepo should lead to a significant reduction in the vandalisation of the pipelines. The authorities would also have to look at providing armed patrols on the river as the river provides ready passage for packaged petroleum products out of the area.