Residents and traders in Akure took to the streets over the weekend to protest what they called indiscriminate location of gas stations in their neighbourhood.
The protesting residents and traders, mainly from Ireakari and Temidire quarters at the popular Roadblock area of Akure, alleged that petrol dealers attempted to erect two more gas stations near an existing one.
They said that the step could lead to fire incident capable of consuming the entire neighbourhood.
According to one of the protesters, Mr Abayomi Ajijola-Ajofe, a youth leader, the protest was triggered by a midnight inferno, which occurred behind the proposed site of a new gas station, 24 hours ago.
“We are protesting because we don’t want any more gas stations in our area, we have one already and that is okay.
“We fear fire incident that could consume our houses if another one is located here. We are concerned about our safety, the one we have already is okay.
“Therefore, we the youths will take unpleasant actions against the dealers of the proposed gas stations if they continue with the construction. We learnt that one government agency has given them licence or permission to operate, we will not take that. They should withdraw the licence now or else, we will make this area unpleasant for them,” Ajijola-Ajofe said.
The chairman of Temidire landlords, Mr Ibrahim Adeuyi, called on the Ondo State Government and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to withdraw the certificate of allocation of gas stations in the area.
Adeuyi, who noted that a plank market was located behind the proposed gas station, pointed out that locating gas stations in residential areas would be prone to fire incidents.
A trader, Mr Kazeem Jinadu, said residents would resist any attempt by the petrol dealers to induce officials of the DPR or that of the state government to approve such new gas stations at the roadblock axis of the town.
A plank trader among the protesters, Mrs Jumoke Akinsele, said that nobody would be safe again if new gas or filling stations were allowed to be located in the area.
“We, plank sellers here appealed to our baba (father), Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, to stop the location of another gas station beside a filling station and a house that was on fire yesterday.
“Most of us are widows, this is where we get money to feed our children and send them to school, we don’t want fire to consume our markets,” she said.
Another plank seller, Mrs Eunice Akeju, who also spoke with journalists, said it was unacceptable to have three gas stations in such an area.
“We discovered recently that another gas station is about to be located around us here, we are protesting against this. We have a gas station, we also have petrol stations there, and that is why we are saying that we don’t want another one here because of our safety,” Akeju said.
The residents said they had written a petition to the state government and the DPR not to allow another gas station in the area.
Meanwhile, one of the victims of fire incident, Mrs Monisola Adewumi, pleaded with the state government to come to her aid as she took loan to set up her business.
Adewumi, who was crying profusely, appealed to well meaning individuals to assist her and other victims of the inferno.
An eyewitness also told newsmen that the fire which started in the night, gutted five rooms and shops with three big deep freezers, four big generators and other electronic appliances worth millions of naira.
The Tide recalls that last week, the Federal Government, through officials of the DPR, in conjunction with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, started clamping down on illegal “roadside dealers” of cooking gas, originally known as Liquefied Petroleum Gas, to prevent fires.
Explosion: Stakeholders Want Replacement Of Old Pipelines
As part of measures to avert further pipeline explosion in the Niger Delta, stakeholders in the region have called for the replacement of all obsolete oil pipelines in the area.
The views of the stakeholders were expressed during a random interview conducted by The Tide on the growing spate of pipeline explosions resulting in wastage of lives.
Speaking during the interview, President of a pro Niger Delta group, Niger Delta coalition Against Violence, (NDCAV), Comrade Lekia Christian said pipeline explosions in the Niger Delta and most recently the nasty experience at Komkom in Oyigbo Local Government Area in Rivers State were linked to leakages from broken pipelines that spilled out petroleum products.
He said people were tempted to stop the spilled crude and meet their waterlow.
“Pipeline explosion has become a recurrent event in the Niger Delta and lives have always been wasted in these sordid experiences. It is the responsibility of the Federal Government, through relevant institutions, to find a lasting solution to this prevalent issue. Most of the pipelines in the Niger Delta are old and need replacement; something has to be done as a matter of urgency to avert further disasters,” he said.
The NDCAV president also called for improved security and surveilance on the pipelines.
In his views, an environmental sociologist and lecturer in the University of Port Harcourt, Dr Steve Wodu, also blamed the sequence of pipeline explosions in the Niger Delta on obsolete facilities which, he said, constitute serious risk to the lives of the people of the host communities.
He said: “It’s unfortunate that most of the pipelines conveying crude oil in the Niger Delta are yet to be replaced despite the dilapidated status of the facilities. This is totally wrong and constitute big risk to the lives of the people. The NNPC and PPMC should embark on an overhaul of all oil pipeline facilities in the Niger Delta to address the issue of pipeline explosions in the area.
“The negligence of relevant institutions in maintenance of pipelines is an issue of critical concern as it affects the lives of the people negatively. This is a disservice and another worst form of injustice to the people of the Niger Delta.”
It could be recalled that the issue of pipeline explosions was also raised at the Senate plenary recently, following a motion by the Senator representing Rivers South East District, George Sekibo and three others following the recent explosion that claimed lives and properties at Oyigbo.
The Senate, in its ruling, urged the NNPC and PPMC and other relevant agencies in the oil and gas industry to find a lasting solution to the issue.
The Senate also called for a holistic review of all existing pipelines to ascertain the levels of functionalities.
By: Taneh Beemene
Rivers Community Shuts Down SPDC Flow Station
The people of Umudiaga Community in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State have shut down the Ahia flow station, operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) on behalf of its Joint Venture Partners.
The community, which expressed its discontent with Shell through a peaceful protest, also gave one week ultimatum to the company to give electricity to the community or have its operations grounded.
Addressing the protesting crowd at the Shell facilities located within the community, last Wednesday, the Community Development Committee (CDC) chairman, Barr Emeka Ogbugo, said the protest was an expression of the community’s disapproval of the company’s continuous negligence of the plight of Umudiaga people.
He said: “The community has suffered for over 50 years despite the presence of Shell in the area. Apart from the one kilometer road constructed by Shell since 1961, there is nothing to show in the community in terms of development.
“Shell gave us electricity that didn’t last for two years. We have a flow station that gathers oil from other communities, yet our community is highly neglected in infrastructural and human capital development”.
He explained that several letters had been written to Shell to address the issues of electricity in the community, but such requests were turned down.
The CDC chairman vowed that the Shell facilities would remain shut down until the community gets a positive response from the company and demanded that the community should be connected to the national grid, rather than being given light from the Shell flow station.
In his reaction, the youth leader, Comrade Daniel Akpelo Wosa, accused SPDC of marginalising the Umudiaga community, in terms of employment opportunities, scholarship and other social amenities.
The Umudiaga women leader, Comfort Chukwu, who also spoke during the protest, urged SPDC to improve on their community relations policies by giving the people a sense of belonging.
Efforts to get the reactions of the SPDC proved abortive as calls made to the company’s Corporate Affairs Manager were not successful.
By: Taneh Beemene
Marketers Blame Terminal Operators For Hike In Cooking Gas Price
The Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM), has, blamed Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) terminal owners and off-takers for the recent hike in the price of cooking gas.
Prices of Liquefied Petroleum Gas, popularly called cooking gas, had gone up by more than 30 per cent, with customers in some parts of the country paying as much as N5, 500 for a 12.6kilograme cylinder of the gas. About a month ago, the price stood at about N2,800 – N3, 000 for the 12.6kg cylinder.
Executive Secretary of NALPGAM, Mr. Bassey Essien in a statement in Lagos last Friday, alleged that the activities of off-takers and terminal owners (where the gas was stored for sales to marketers) was responsible for the rise in the prices of the commodity.
“It becomes necessary to bring to the attention of users of cooking gas, stakeholders in the industry and the government the level of exploitation that currently subsists in the pricing of cooking gas by terminal owners and off-takers,” said Essien.
“The Federal Government approved the allocation of about 350,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) of gas per annum for local consumption through the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company and this has been distributed through the terminals and off-takers to marketers who eventually distribute to end users.
“We noticed recently that gas delivered to terminals and off-takers, which was being sold at N3,200,000 per 20 MT a week ago suddenly jumped to between N4,000,000 and N4,300,000 per 20MT at the terminals, ” Essien alleged.
According to him, the decision of terminal operators to raise the price of the gas from their own end has seen Nigerians paying more in recent weeks that they did a month ago. The marketers, however, maintained that the price structure from the NLNG has not changed.
“We dissociate our association from exploitative acts of terminal owners. It is like taking the industry and stakeholders for granted to the detriment of the efforts of the Federal Government at deepening cooking gas utilisation in the country, which has been yielding positive results, ” Essien said.
Essien said that with this development, many Nigerians would go back to using kerosene and firewood which had attendant health effects.
“A filling station which was selling 300 litres of kerosene a week has seen its sales increased to about 6,000 litres because people who cannot afford gas due to the increment are going back to kerosene.
“This has so many negative effects on the economy, especially as food sellers would have to increase the prices of their food or reduce the quantity not to run at a loss,” he said.
Essien commended the NLNG for its efforts in supplying gas to Nigerians and urged the company to improve on its performance to deliver gas to other coastal terminals outside Lagos to reduce the inherent pressure on the terminals in the South West.
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