Suspected delinquent s stealing premium motor spirit (PMS) also called petrol from petroleum pipelines in south west have caused about thirty explosions, resulting in the death of unspecified number of persons, Oriental News Nigeria Reports.
The explosions resulted from illegal severance of the facility in attempt to open it up and scoop products by the vandals.
Spokesman of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Ibrahim Farinloye said the agency’s initial intervention was on disaster management but expanded its mandate from 2012 when vandalisation of pipeline infrastructure in the region became widespread.
‘From 2012, there was increase in the act of vandalisation and we now stepped up our intervention through advocacy, working with the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps and the community people. We increased our community engagement because vandalisation is a complex thing and significantly threatens lives and property’ Farinloye said.
He said the intervention has become tough, given the topography of the environment where those pipelines are located.
Farinloye added that there may be more vandalisations of the pipelines as recorded by NEMA but when such acts causes explosion, then the agency moves in to prevent further disaster like epidemic.
‘Between 2012 to 2015, we have recorded about 20 to 30 explosions which is the severe aspect of the vandalisation. On the number of deaths, it is difficult to determine because some times due to the nature of the terrain we hardly gain access to the scene, and sometimes before we get in we see charred bodies, other times the river would have washed down those who drowned, he told Oriental News Nigeria.
Also, we are prevented by the vandals because they are afraid that when we take the bodies it is possible to identify their faces which could aid investigations and arrest, so all these factors contribute to the difficulty in getting the clearer picture of number of death’, he narrated.
On the level of preparedness of the agency to early evacuation exercise in the event of explosion, Farinloye said that the agency is properly equipped and the NNPC emergency unit is also technically capable but ‘in all of this you may have the necessary facilities and manpower but when the terrain prevents rescue action which can also be seen in advanced climes then there is little one can do’.
He said, NEMA has held several meetings with community people and it has been agreed that one of the ways to open access is by constructing road path along the pipeline network which will ultimately reduce hindrances in the event of explosion.
‘We have reasoned with them because we want them to take ownership of the facilities by providing early warning signal to security agencies and emergency management departments. It is one of the numerous recommendations we have put forward and when it is adopted and implemented I think we will experience a break and possibly deter such acts,’ he pointed out.