Lagos pipeline fire: Residents laments, count losses, five confirmed dead
Written by Esther Omonegbe on January 21, 2020
Residents of Ile Epo community in the Abule-Egba area of Lagos, on Monday, counted their losses following the fire that destroyed many properties when petroleum product pipeline exploded in the community.
It was reported that the pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was on Sunday ruptured by vandals, which led to an explosion.
Five persons died in the incident, while 11 buildings, 17 shops and 36 vehicles, including 33 trucks, were consumed by the inferno, which started around 8.30pm.
When our correspondents visited the scene on Monday, various emergency agencies were on the ground, while the residents, who lost their properties to the inferno, lamented their losses.
A vehicle spare parts dealer, Feyintola Ajiboba, told our correspondent that she held a service in her shop on Sunday to pray for a successful year, adding that she was packing the items used for the service when she heard the explosion.
She said, “That was how I had been hosting the service for years. We prayed and ate until around 6.30pm. I was packing the chairs and the tables we used when we suddenly heard the sound of the explosion; before I realised what was happening, the fire had engulfed everywhere, including my shop, and I lost goods worth N7m.
“I don’t know where to start from; everything I laboured for has gone down the drain. My life is ruined. I have been nurturing the business from infancy to what it is today. I put my trust in God.”
The Chairman of the Truck Drivers Association in the area, Ibrahim Ariyo, who attributed the incident to a compromise on the part of the personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, noted that the body lost three of its members to the inferno.
He said, “What happened was a compromise on the part of the NSCDC with the vandals, because the NSCDC security post is close to where the pipeline was punctured.
“My question to the NSCDC personnel is why can’t they stop the vandals from carrying out the operation? From what I observed, the commander of the NSCDC sent to man the post was removed, because he was accused of working with the vandals.
“Last week Monday, the man was relieved of his duty at the post and a former commander, who was working with the vandals, was brought back on Friday and the explosion occurred on Sunday; that is why I said the NSCDC personnel were working with the vandals.
“We have lost millions of naira worth of vehicles to the incident; I don’t know where our people will start from, because the burnt trucks are our only sources of livelihood. The government should come to our aid because we don’t know where to start from.”
A resident of the area, Abiodun Olusola, who lost his two-bedroom house to the inferno, urged the government to come to the aid of the community.
He said, “We were inside the house when we heard the sound of the explosion and ran out and saw the raging fire. We had to run for our lives. It took about 45 minutes for the fire to get to our house; we had to sleep in one of our church members’ house; the clothes we have on now were given to us by people.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu commiserated with the affected families on his Twitter handle.
He tweeted, “My thoughts and prayers are with the families & businesses affected in the unfortunate incident at Abule-Egba. We are thankful for the brave members of LASEMA & our fire service that swung into action, working all night to reduce the impact. Pipeline vandals will be shown no mercy.
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mele Kyari, while speaking to journalists at the scene of the incident, noted that the corporation was collaboratingwith security agencies to reduce the activities of vandals in the community.
“We are working with the security agencies to see that this act is reduced to the barest minimum. Nigerians must know that this activity is happening within the community, the people are aware of what is happening and if we allow these vandals to continue to do what they are doing, they will kill us all.
We also need the help and cooperation of members of the community to expose these vandals and we are hoping and counting on Nigerians to help resolve this, because this is a major national security concern.”