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Friday, August 12, 2022

The fire always

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THE Petroleum Products Marketing  Company Limited should have many suits on its neck for the danger it poses to lives by not securing pipelines it uses in transporting products to different parts of the country.

PPMC’s  insensitivity when one of its numerous pipelines  catches fire manifests in its concerns about ensuring supply of fuels rather than loss of lives, and a lasting solution to the incidents of pipeline vandalism. PPMC is perpetually repairing pipelines — a business that runs on the wheels of vandalisation.

For little thieves who set off fire in Arepo, Ogun State, last week, four months after they burst the pipelines, causing a fire that was more devastating than the current one, PPMC has ceded territories with pipelines to criminals. PPMC appears disinterested in protecting its pipelines.

Mr. Nasir Imodagbe, speaking from Abuja, 724 kilometres away, blamed local authorities for not providing security. He spoke as if he did not know security was the responsibility of the Federal Government, the owner of PPMC.

“We expect that the state government should brace for the challenge. The state government and local authorities should assist in securing the pipeline. The Inspector-General of Police has set up a special task force on anti-pipeline vandalism. Local authorities need to work with the police to secure the pipelines,” Mr. Imodagbe said.

Are local authorities to protect the pipelines? Do we have state police? Are non-PPMC personnel supposed to be seen anywhere near the facilities? Did Imodagbe hear the Ogun State Commissioner of Police saying inadequate facilities made access to the pipelines impossible? Does Mr. Imodagbe understand how official security works in Nigeria?

His hurry in addressing the availability of petroleum products rather than fires that are claiming lives, destroying the environment paints bigger pictures of why it is impossible to take every decision about Nigeria from Abuja.

If Imodagbe was near Arepo, his anger would have been better directed and his thinking clearer.

“What is the state government doing? We know what the situation was in Aba. The state government took charge and today the Aba depot is working. We have had challenges in other communities such as Benin and we know the assistance we received from those places. Now, why is it always Arepo?”

The comparison with Abia State does not absolve PPMC and the Federal Government of responsibility for failing to protect lives and vital national assets. Arepo is not the only place where pipeline fires occur regularly — Arepo is  by the busiest road in Nigeria, the Lagos-Ibadan, a journalists’ estate is beside it, so it gets a lot of publicity.

PPMC should stop giving excuses: there are technologies to monitor pipelines, they work elsewhere.

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