By Oko Ebuka
RESIDENTS of Satellite Town/ Ijegun-Egba, in Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State under the aegis of the Satellite Town Forum, have called on the Federal Government to come to their aid and relocate all tank farms and container terminals from their community and stop issuing of licenses for new tank farms.
Speaking at a panel review on the Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, of the proposed bulk petroleum products depot project scheduled for construction within the community, the chairman of the community association, Mr. Michael Imitini, said that the demands by the residents of the community were based on the dangerous and chaotic nature of their operations which are detrimental to safety in the community.
He stated: ‘‘The Satellite Town/ Ijegun-Egba is a fully developed residential area. There are problems of chronic flooding and drainage blockage as these tank farms are constructed on natural flood channels, thereby polluting the environment.’’
The leadership of the community also decried the absence of safety infrastructures like ire service in case of any fire outbreak coupled with degraded roads and permanent gridlocks, a development that has made lives of residents unbearable.
The community expressed their dissatisfaction with the location of another tank farm, which is under construction by Promenade Oil and Gas Company Limited, within the area, which puts the community at high risk because of the volatility of operations.
Imitini disclosed that there are over 50 tank farms owned by 13 oil marketing companies currently in operation in the community.
Some of these companies, according to him, are A.A. Reno, First Royal, Chipet Nigeria Limited, MAO Petroleum Company, Build Global Energy, Manoj Oil, Star Oil and Gas, First Deep Water, Ocean Pride Oil, Rain Oil, among others.
He stated: “It was abnormal to have these huge dangerous industrial activities located in a densely populated residential area.
”Satellite Town is a residential area. It is not an industrial area. From 1960 when we got our Independence, Satellite Town has been a residential area. And by 1970s, when those houses were built, they were mainly built for legislators. Individual occupiers were also approved by the former head of state, General Olusegun Obasanjo, and that brought up estates like chevron, NNPC, NPF, and individual houses.”
“Satellite Town is a built-up area. They have foisted chaos on us that a journey of five minutes from Waterside to Finiger takes up to two to three hours due to the traffic gridlock caused by the operations of the tank farm owners.
“Our prayer is that we don’t need any additional tank farms in Ijegun-Egba, Satellite Town. Secondly, we are asking the Federal Government to look into the activities of the existing marketing companies that have over 50 tank farms. We are saying that they should set a time limit (5years) maximum, for them to quit and relocate out of Ijegun-Egba, Satellite Town.
“We don’t want additional tank farms. You can find out from every evidence and regulation that they did not meet up with some of the required processes they supposed to pass through. They didn’t communicate with the community, the questionnaire they claimed to have administered was not given to the community and so nobody ever laid hands on that EIA questionnaire.’’
Assuring residents’ support to cushion the effect of the operations of tank farm owners in the community, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, who was represented by Mr. Celestine Gomwalk, insisted that companies operating within the community must meet up with the environmental requirements in order to be in harmony with the residents and equally save the government from further expenses arising from the environmental hazard in the nearest future.
“There is the issue of the drainage system to be set up for the community so that people will not lose their buildings and means of livelihood so as to create a win-win situation for the government, project proponents and the people,” he said.