. . NNPC disowns surveillance team
By CHIKA IZUORA,
There is palpable fear that large scale oil theft could be triggered in the country by the return of some suspected petrol thieves posing as security surveillance operators around oil pipeline facilities in Lagos state. This fear is heightened by report by local community heads where these key oil infrastructures are located.
LEADERSHIP investigations at one of the volatile areas, Baruwa community in Ayobo/Ipaja Local Council Development Area, LCDA of Lagos in the outskirts of the state where large scale oil theft had caused monumental degradation and pollution revealed that residents in the area now live in fear following emergence of illegal structures on the Right of Way, ROW, of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) owned high pressure petroleum product pipeline.
The paramount ruler of the community, Alhaji Khalil Baruwa, told LEADERSHIP that the presence of some youths who posed as security surveillance team and the emergence of makeshift structures right on the ROW has been raising suspicion and anxiety among the residents.
Baruwa said as the head of the community, he had reported the case to the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, of the area but the police said pipeline surveillance is not under its purview and could act when any criminal infractions are reported.
“I have also reported the matter to the Pipeline and Product Marketing Company, PPMC, area office in Mosimi, an arm of the NNPC, which controls the area. They visited and promised to address the critical issues affecting the community which include pollution of underground water in the area,” Baruwa said.
He also explained that since 1998, the area has witnessed spill from the pipeline occasioned by activities of oil thieves as well as spill caused by aged facilities. “We reported and held several meetings with the NNPC, the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, the PPMC and other relevant government agencies on the plight of the people. Our farm land had been eroded, underground water polluted and we have lost most of our source of livelihood”.
Continuing Baruwa said, “After several reports and protests, the NNPC sunk three boreholes in 2001 but when the samples of water was taken to the laboratory for analysis it showed there was presence of iron which is not healthy for consumption. Two years after the NNPC conducted its independent test and the result was the same, the community requested for water treatment plant in 2002. But it was until 2013, when the firm responded and gave us only two treatment plants. We are still waiting for the third plant up till now, but because of lack of trust, the community decided that until all agreements are met, we will not allow the commissioning, so as I speak, about one million residents of the community buy water for both commercial and domestic use”.
On the presence of the suspected youths and illegal structures, the management of the PPMC Mosimi told LEADERSHIP that the agency has signed contracts with some local firms for maintenance of the facility.
A manager in the agency who would not want to be named said, “We have signed contracts with some firms to maintain the pipeline and one of the agreements is that they will account for any product loss, so they may be the ones that placed the surveillance team in place”.