As victims count losses
Several properties destroyed
LASG sues for calm
By Olasunkanmi Akoni and Akeem Salau
Tragedy struck late Sunday night when yet to be identified under aged boy and two men were burnt to death following raging fire from a vandalised petroleum pipeline of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, at Ile-Epo, Ekoro, Abule -Egba, Oke Odo Local Government Area, inward Baruwa, Alimosho area of Lagos State.
The tragedy, which destroyed many properties left some residents also displaced.
Unfortunately, the bodies of the deceased were recovered from the inferno by men of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, in collaboration with other response teams.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the inferno was as a result of pipeline vandals who burst one of the oil pipelines in the area to siphon the product.
11 trucks, laden with 40feet containers were destroyed, while about seven buildings also razed by the inferno.
According to an eyewitness, the vandalized pipeline had been gushing petroleum product earlier in the noon before it later exploded into inferno much later.
Director-General, LASEMA, who confirmed the incident, added that the swift response of LASEMA and other First Responders mobilized to the incident site made it possible to put out the fire quickly and successfully, thereby, curtailed it from spreading to other adjoining buildings.
“The quick success aside being attributed to adequate training of personnel, quick response time and acquisition of proper equipment by the Governor Babajide Sanwo–Olu led administration, it was also due to the outcome of interagency collaboration which made the operation and recovery process fast and smooth,” Oke-Osanyintolu stated.
He continued, “As at the moment, 8 am, (Monday), we can confirm that after several hours of intense fire fighting by the combined teams of Lagos Fire and other agencies the inferno has been completely put out with details revealing that the valve where the vandalised petroleum products emanated from had been stopped cutting off supply totally from source at the NNPC Station.
“We received distress call by 8.30 pm and by 9 pm we have curtailed it and by 11.30 pm we have put it out.
“Having contained the area at 11.30 pm.We have commenced an enumeration of the vehicles and properties that were involved this morning.
“We, therefore, appeal to all residents to remain calm and to report suspicious activities to curtail the instances of these unfortunate incidents. In line with Mr. Governor’s greater Lagos agenda, the government will do its part, while the citizens need to do their own part.
“This collaborative act by the NNPC eased the entire recovery process in no small measure, as the supply of the highly inflammable fluid was cut off at source which contributed immensely to curtailing the resultant fire from acts of the pipeline vandals.
“The present administration is committed to continuing to protect lives and property of residents at all times,” LASEMA boss stated.
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, who commiserated with victims, describing the incident as “unfortunate,” however, appealed to residents to remain calm in the face of the difficult time, saying, “government is on top of the situation.’
Victims count losses
When Vanguard visited affected sites on Monday, at Joel Nnadede Street, off Igoke Estate, Oke Odo, Local Government Area, residents were seen in their large number lamenting the losses and mourning the dead.
One of the affected victims whose building was destroyed, Miss Taiwo Odugbesan,, narrated her ordeal thus, “Yesterday, (Sunday) January 19th, 2020., after returning from Church service around 5 pm, and when i was just settling down, I started hearing loud voices outside shouting and cautioning residents not to turn on gas cooker or any form of naked light.
I was wondering what could be wrong. At that point, I rushed out to see what’s going on. That was the end I saw of my property intact. The next thing that happened was fire everywhere. I could not salvage anything from the house.
I’m an orphan, no husband. I fend alone for myself. The only property my parents left for me all gone in the inferno. I don’t have anything again but I know I have God. Everything I have worked for in my life all gone. My brother’s landed property document all burnt.
The government should please assist us. This building is far from the pipeline axis. We have been complaining to the authorities about the illegal activities of vandals who come to burst pipelines and scoop fuel. Surprisingly, the authorities have refused to tale positive action.. Maybe, now that the d worst has happened again the government will come to our aid and address the issue permanently. The government should come to our aid because I’m finished.”
Also, a victim who simply identified himself as Prince John, narrated thus, “I’m the Community Development Association, CDA, Chairman of the area. I got a call yesterday( Sunday) at about 7.pm because I was not in the house that the pipeline has been burst again. This has been happening since 2006 in Abule Egba.
“We have written a series of petitions to the management of NNPC in Abuja, Mosimi, Ogun State and Ejigbo, Lagos, all to no avail.
“We petitioned the then Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, Commandant state Civil Defence but no concrete response.
“Even there was a time we allied for the deployment of security personnel. The state Commandant Civil Defence approved the deployment of 24 Soldiers to monitor the NNPC pipeline.
READ ALSO: Photos: Abule Egba inferno
“Surprisingly, the latest tragedy went beyond us. I was rushing down to the house to ensure the safety of my family. But unfortunately, before I got to the house it has already been consumed by fire. I thank God, through His grace my wife had already evacuated my children to a safe place if not they would have been consumed as well.
There is a canal that flows through the frontage of my house. The fire spread through the canal which was flowing with fuel spillage.
“Now, all my valuables, document, certificate all gone. I’m using this medium to appeal to relevant authorities, governments to come to our rescue as we have lost our lives savings in the avoidable tragedy. We are appealing to governments to have compassion on us.”
However, at the time of sending in this report, the state Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu was yet to personally visit the scene for on the spot assessment, while the Managing Director of NNPC, led a delegation to inspect the situation and level of damage.