By Michael Eboh
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Sunday, lamented the high rate of pipeline vandalisation in the south-eastern part of the country, stating tthat more than 50 per cent of petroleum products pumped through the Aba- Enugu pipeline network are stolen.
According to a statement in Abuja, Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr. Maikanti Baru, who stated this during a visit to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, declared that at some point, about 700 breaches were recorded on the pipeline.
According to him, this situation has hampered efficient supply and distribution of petroleum products not only in the state, but in the entire South-East region.
“The Osisioma and Nsirimo areas (both in Abia State) as well as Ishiagwu (in Ebonyi State) were the major vandalism flash points along the line where illegal connections for diversion of products had been observed almost on a daily basis.
“Even after the Aba-Enugu pipeline was repaired, it still had to be shut down as the corporation hardly gets up to 50 per cent of the products pumped,” Baru maintained.
He described Enugu Depot as a major NNPC supply and distribution infrastructure in the entire South-East region which requires the support of all stakeholders bring back to life.
Therefore, he called on the governor to rally his counterparts in the region to work with the NNPC and security agencies to secure the strategic pipeline, which he said would go a long way in reviving efficient supply and distribution of petroleum products in the area.
“This depot is not only strategic to the South East, it also serves as a bridge to Makurdi Depot in the North Central as well as the Yola Depot in the North East,” he noted.
Baru also charged the governor to collaborate with relevant government agencies to enforce the sale of petrol at filling stations in the state at the government-regulated price of N145.
“You wouldn’t want to watch as unpatriotic marketers profiteer over your innocent citizens. We still believe marketers anywhere in this country can make profit selling at the official pump price,” Baru added.
To this end, the Enugu State Government pledged to work together with the NNPC to revamp the strategic Enugu depot towards meeting the petroleum products demand of the entire South-East region and beyond.
Governor Ugwuanyi assured that he would rally other governors from the region to ensure that the Aba-
Enugu pipeline is secured from the unwholesome activities of vandals.
Describing Baru’s visit as timely, Ugwuanyi said he was now better informed as to why the Enugu Depot was not in operation.
He assured that the Enugu State Task Force on Petroleum Products would work with NNPC officials and relevant security agencies to ascertain the exact incident spots with a view to securing the pipeline.