The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has called on the Federal Government to improve its security agencies to stop illegal bunkering in the petroleum sector.
In a report made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Friday, the union said the country lost about 7 billion dollars annually to illegal bunkers.
The report which was signed by Mr Adamson Momoh, the NUPENG’s Assistant General Secretary, said though many of the bunkers had been arrested by the Joint Task Force, their activities were still unchecked.
``The nation’s security agencies need to be further overhauled, especially the Navy. This is because about 80 per cent of Nigerians live below poverty level even when we have oil.’’
It stated that bunkering endangered the lives of perpetrators and those of the communities in the areas and caused severe environmental impact.
``It also wastes the needed revenue to finance development, even in the areas in which the activities are taking place.’’
It urged the government to provide modern equipment to fight maritime crimes, especially in the creeks.
The report revealed that 16 oil theft points were discovered in Imo River field in September, 2011.
It further said that about 75 per cent of all oil spills and about 70 per cent of spills from Shell Petroleum Development Company facilities in Delta, between 2006 and 2010, were caused by sabotage, theft and illegal refining.
According to the report, oil thieves have done much havoc to the national economy and their activities must be checked through the use of modern technology and effective monitoring of pipelines.
It advised various communities in the Niger Delta to set up vigilante groups to protect and safeguard the pipelines from vandalism and crude oil theft.
It also recommended that those involved in stealing crude oil and their supporters should be prosecuted and jailed for economic sabotage.