The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to direct the Ecological Fund Office to embark on erosion control in Umunwanwa community of Abia to avert possible pipeline explosion.
The call followed the unanimous adoption of a motion by Rep. Sam Onuigbo (PDP-Abia) at the plenary on Tuesday.
Moving the motion, Onuigbo said that Umunwanwa, a town in Umuahia South Local Government Area of Abia, had facilities of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) pipeline passing through it.
He said that the town had been devastated by severe erosion menace which was threatening lives, property, and economic activities in the area.
According to him, the danger is that the PPMC pipeline that passes through Umunwanwa has been precariously exposed by the erosion, leaving it open to explosion at the slightest of impacts.
“The ugly petroleum pipeline explosion that resulted in the deaths of about 250 people in Osisioma, in Osisioma Local Government Area of Abia in 2018, was reported to have exhibited similar dangerous signals.
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“They were brought to the attention of the Federal Government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) and its subsidiary, the PPMC, but such warning alerts and several calls to act and prevent the deadly incident that happened were ignored or neglected.
“A few months after I brought this issue before this house on Oct. 23, 2018, there was a pipeline explosion at Kom Kom, in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State, which claimed scores of lives on June 22, thus pointing to the persistent dangers of pipeline explosions to Nigerian citizens.
“Similar alerts that had been given to the Federal Government and its agencies such as the NNPC to carry out its responsibilities in order to prevent the occurrences of the tragedies of Osisioma, Oyigbo, among others, have always fallen on deaf ears.
“Umunwanwa is sitting on a literal keg of gun powder and except the Federal Government immediately takes measures to defuse this, there is a looming mass death of those Nigerian citizens,” he said.
The lawmaker said that Section 14 (2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) states that the primary reason a government exists is for the protection of lives, property and the welfare of its citizens.
Onuigbo said that it was time to move away from the ritual of disasters foretold to that of disasters prevented because every Nigerian life matters.
The house called on all relevant government agencies to take immediate measures to prevent any calamity likely to result from the exposure of the pipelines in the affected area.
In his ruling, the Speaker of the house, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, mandated the committees on Climate Change, Environment, and Petroleum Downstream to visit the erosion site in Umunwanwa.
He charged the committees to make recommendations to the assembly within four weeks on measures to be adopted to ensure a permanent solution to the erosion problem.
He said that the committees should proffer permanent solution to the exposure of the pipelines to address the threat to lives, properties, and economic activities in the area. (NAN)