Some residents of Ijegun, Lagos State, which recently suffered an oil pipeline explosion, have called for regular security patrol, establishment of a fire service station and rebuilding of a canal in the area.
The residents spoke in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) following a recent attempt by vandals to open another pipeline near a market in the community.
They said that the relevant authorities should also relocate a public school near the pipeline to save pupils from fire disaster.
NAN reports that an explosion on July 4, resulting from pipeline vandalism in Ijegun, claimed lives and destroyed much property.
Mr Augustine Mbuba, immediate past Vice Chairman of Landlords’ Association, Catholic Mission Street, Ijegun, said that the residents had been living in fear of the unknown.
“Our people cannot sleep anymore; imagine that five days after the last explosion, some vandals shifted to another location to open up another pipeline that would have caused another explosion.
“Thanks to the vigilante and security agents who scared them away before they could complete their task of syphoning fuel with their gadgets,” he told NAN.
A retiree of the Nigerian National Shipping Line, Mr Roland Ejere, told NAN that there was the need to improve security in the community.
He urged that pipelines should be buried deeper to make it difficult for vandals to access them.
“A solution is to bury these pipelines deeper,” he told NAN during a condolence visit to the widow of a victim of the July 4 explosion, Mr Nnabuife Emerokwem.
He also called for establishment of a fire service station in Ijegun for timely intervention in the event of an explosion.
He noted that the nearest fire station to the pipeline area was located at Ikotun, another community.
“The government should establish a fire service station in Ijegun because it has become a centre for fire disasters,” he said.
According to a bookshop owner in the community, Mrs Victoria Osigwe, artisans around the pipeline should be made to vacate the area and ply their trade from afar.
She noted that the July 4 pipeline explosion in Ijegun was the second, urging that the community should not suffer anymore.
“Once beaten, twice shy,” she said.
A landlord, Mr Okwudili Arachie, told NAN that the state government should work on a canal in the community where fuel usually flowed into during a pipeline explosion.
He said that the government should properly channel the canal so that water or fuel from it would not get into houses.
“The canal has been affected by erosion which is why it has expanded too close to our houses, especially houses of those who lost their lives during the last explosion.
“The relevant authorities should put the canal in shape and cover it so that any form of fuel flow would not get into people’s homes but be controlled,” he said.
A business woman, Mrs Agbo Joy, appealed to the government to relocate a public school near the pipeline to avert loss of children to an explosion.
“It has become very necessary that the school very close to the pipeline should be moved away.
“The last disaster would have been worse if children were in school because the fire got to the walls of the school,” she told NAN.
According to her, school children lost their lives to a pipeline explosion in Ijegun in May 2008 as a result of stampede.
A school teacher, Mr Gerald Emejom, also appealed to the government to direct relocation of gas and fuel stations near pipelines to avert explosions.
He regretted that many victims of pipeline explosions were not connected with bunkering.
A Catholic cleric, Rev. Fr. Andrew Abhulime, called for more stringent punishment for pipeline vandals to discourage the crime.
“The government should fight causes and not effects or symptoms. If there are no visible consequences for individuals who steal public heritages, then, these public evils and effects will always flourish,” he said.
NAN reports that the suspected vandals returned five days after the July 4 pipeline explosion in Ijegun to attempt another bunkering.
However, the attempt was foiled by residents of the community, who raised alarm that attracted an intervention by security agents.
The Divisional Police Officer in Isheri Osun, near Ijegun, SP Rafiu Akinlade, had told NAN that he dispatched a team of policemen to the place as soon as he was alerted of the attempt.
Akinlade said that the suspected criminals had run away before the police team got there, adding that tools and pipes which they abandoned were recovered by the police.
NAN reports that an explosion occurred in Ijegun on May 25, 2008, when a truck used for road rehabilitation damaged an oil pipeline.
The inferno led to loss of lives and properties.