In News by Oluwaseun Samuel on the 23rd, September, 2020

A Lagos Neighborhood The place Residents Drink, Bathe With Petrol Water

A Lagos Community Where Residents Drink, Bathe With Petrol Water

Lagos comunity

Gasoline water (Inset: NNPC Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari) Pictures: Olalekan Olabode

On this particular report, SAMSON FOLARIN appears at how the failure of governance and company irresponsibility of the Nigerian Nationwide Petroleum Company are destroying the livelihood and well being of a neighborhood in Ejigbo, Lagos State.

On a current night, Alhaji Wahab Olorunfunmi was having a meal in his home on Sanusi Road, Eijigbo, on the outskirts of Lagos.

The meal on his desk regarded typical, however the barely brownish water he had in his cup was a lethal brew of water and petrol.

Olorunfunmi wasn’t on a suicide mission.

Ejigbo, the place he has lived all his life as an indigene, can also be dwelling to one in all the busiest satellite tv for pc depots of the Nigerian Nationwide Petroleum Company.

The depot provides petroleum merchandise to South Western states in Nigeria powering companies, maintaining automobiles on the highway and smoothening financial and social actions.

It’s below the System 2B Pipeline Community, which accounts for 60 per cent of gasoline provide and distribution within the nation.

However in Ejigbo, the depot is the supply of a lot agony and misery.

Leaky petroleum pipes are contaminating wells and boreholes, two important sources of consuming water for Ejigbo’s large inhabitants of kids, adults and the aged. Greater than 50,000 individuals are stated to be dwelling in this neighborhood.

Olorunfunmi, who’s 74-years-old, says he takes ‘petrol water’ with each meal.

In response to him, his tenants and kids journey far looking for potable water, however he has resigned to destiny.

“Somebody suggested me to cease bothering myself due to my outdated age. So, I simply boil the water and drink it. My spouse and children purchase water, however I drink from the borehole. Even when it should have an effect on my well being, how lengthy do I’ve to stay once more?” he stated, throwing his palms up in defeat.

Down the road is the house of Mutiat Agbabiaka, the spouse of a landlord, whose household relied on a borehole for sustenance.

The borehole was one of many water sources left untouched by the NNPC leaking pipes. Throughout the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, the Agbabiakas bought the water to generate funds for his or her massive household. Their exemption from the final malaise blighting the neighbourhood was, nonetheless, short-lived.

On the identical night, our reporter paid the Agbabiakas a go to.

 

The matriarch of the home was washing her kids’s garments when the reporter visited and begged to take among the water.

She agreed.

After filling a plastic bottle with the water, the reporter perceived it. It reeked of gasoline.

Agbabiaka, who noticed the reporter’s response, gave a figuring out nod with fear written throughout her face.

“I began noticing the issue a number of days in the past. I went to the lavatory to take my bathtub once I perceived that scent of gasoline. Since then, we have now been permitting individuals to return and fetch free of charge. Our water has additionally been contaminated,” she stated.

She recalled with ache how in October 2019, her husband paid N200,000 to dig a borehole, including that the water was good till early 2020, when it began to scent of gasoline.

The housewife confirmed our correspondent the stump of the deserted borehole.

In accordance to her, in Could 2020, the household raised one other N200,000 and dug a second borehole. It was this second borehole that simply received polluted.

Ramota Sanusi, one other landlady on Sanusi Road, stated lots of the neighbourhoods had a couple of nicely or borehole of their households.

She defined that the wells most residents have been previously consuming water from had oil, which made them abandon the wells.

The septuagenarian stated individuals who dug boreholes with the hope of getting clear water solely ended up losing their cash.

New wells and boreholes merely received contaminated after a short time.

As she opened the rusty iron cowl of her deserted nicely, a pointy odour rose out of the nicely. It was the pungent scent of petrol.

Down within the deep nicely is a black mixture of what appeared like water and petrol, with the clayey facet partitions of the nicely peeling off.

“This nicely has been right here for 25 years. We locked it some years in the past. I can’t bear in mind the precise 12 months. And that was after we first seen the issue and deserted it.

“The borehole we dug is just not match for consuming, all due to the spillage,” she stated.

Our correspondent noticed that as her daughter opened the borehole faucet, the water lathered on contact with a bowl.

The soapy foam didn’t dissolve till a number of seconds later, with a powerful scent of gasoline.

“We can’t drink our water. One of the best we do is to make use of it for bathing, washing of garments and bathrooms,” she added. 

Genesis

Though the NNPC satellite tv for pc depot was opened in Ejigbo in 1982, residents solely started to note that their wells and boreholes have been contaminated in 2013.

The spillage was first found in a nicely belonging to a landlord, Mr Adedeji Ogunba, on Aminatu Ilo Road, on Saturday, August 24, 2013.

At the time, the event induced a stir. The plight of the neighborhood made the information and the previous NNPC Depot Supervisor in Ejigbo, Dr Balogun Tola, visited.

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He confirmed the leak and advised journalists that the company would repair it.

Tola, in accordance with studies, counseled Ogunba for reporting to the NNPC, saying the owner visited his workplace with a crew of policemen to report the invention in his nicely.

He additionally stated samples had been taken for exams.

Neighborhood leaders claimed that the company didn’t fulfil its guarantees of addressing the issue.

The scenario, they added, was additional sophisticated by pipe vandals who moved in to reap the benefits of the company’s disinterest within the safety of its pipes within the space.

In 2015, 28 streets have been affected by the vandalisation of NNPC pipes.

A former Chairman of the Abuna/Sanusi Neighborhood Growth Affiliation, Chief Samuel Obembe, famous that apart from the wells and boreholes being polluted, pumping machines received broken as a result of they might not stand up to the combination of gasoline and water.

In Could 2019, the NNPC pipeline on Tunde Alabi Crescent, Ejigbo, was vandalised and deserted. The incident happened round 1am.

Stories say the pipeline was not sealed till round 12.30pm, almost 12 hours after the incident was reported.

The then Chairman of Victory Property Neighborhood Growth Affiliation, Mr John Akinnubi, had lamented that the spill would compound the air pollution downside the neighborhood was grappling with.

Deserted

Documentary proof obtained by our correspondent revealed that a number of efforts have been made by the neighborhood to get the federal government and the NNPC to repair its leaky pipes, all to no avail.

Our reporter obtained copies of letters, together with reminders, despatched to the Ejigbo council secretariat, the NNPC and the Pipeline and Product Advertising Firm, a subsidiary of the NNPC, in 2015 and 2016, giving updates on the neighborhood downside and calling for assist.

The letter to the Govt Secretary of the Ejigbo council, dated April 6, 2015, stated the neighborhood seen the issue turned widespread early 2014 “after we began perceiving very critical petrol odour in our wells and boreholes.”

“We have been directed to report the difficulty to the NNPC in Mosimi. Alhaji Abubakar was delegated to return and see the scenario. He got here the second time along with his officers to take the pattern of wells and boreholes from the realm. Up until now, we have now not heard from them.

“We took one other step by involving the Ejigbo Divisional Police Officer. She was nicely concerned. The NNPC delegated the identical Alhaji Abubakar from Mosimi…he took samples of water from totally different homes once more.

“All efforts to get outcomes from the NNPC proved abortive (for) about 9 months. Therefore, we determined to tell the DPO and also you because the chairman of the communities in Ejigbo.”

One other letter, additionally dated April 2015, stated the issue had aggravated from “simply perceiving odour to actual gasoline in some homes.”

In a bid to drive remedial motion, the neighborhood threatened to sue the NNPC for N1.5bn.

The risk compelled a change in company behaviour, however just for some time.

The present Chairman of the CDA, Mr Remi Suara, stated the NNPC later visited the neighborhood and promised to supply them with boreholes as a palliative measure.

He stated they have been requested to submit quotations for the renovation works to be performed.

A duplicate of the quotations, obtained by The PUNCH, confirmed that the neighborhood requested a borehole with a submersible pump.

Two drilling corporations, Ola-Mosh (Nigeria) Restricted and Engineer Adejare Raji Enterprises, of their estimates dated November 17, 2015, demanded N302,000 and N282,000, respectively.

Suara stated the NNPC did nothing concerning the estimates and by no means revisited the issue.

He listed among the affected components of the neighborhood to incorporate Kamoru Road, Sanusi Road, Shock Avenue, Abuna Road, Tunde Alabi Road, Omi Yale Road, Oboye Road, Kehinde Shut, Taiwo Shut, Igbehin Adun Road and Tunde Alabi Road.

He defined that the air pollution was pervasive, with extra households feeling the warmth.

The neighborhood chief stated his nicely water, which was clear, not too long ago turned undrinkable and had gasoline odour.

Requested if there had been any recurring well being downside locally, Suara stated no deliberate effort had been instituted to measure the well being implications.

“We don’t have the medical data, however it’s affecting individuals’s well being, with complaints right here and there. However individuals have been making an attempt self-medication. How lengthy do they need us to endure and for what offence?” a visibly disturbed Suara requested.

“Is it against the law we stay right here? Our homes are distant from the pipelines; we’re struggling on each facet. The federal government can’t give us good water, and as an alternative, landlords are subjected to random police harassment,” he added.

Exploited

A number of years after the neighborhood started to complain concerning the leaking pipelines, issues took a flip for the more severe.

Residents, who had began consuming and bathing with petrol water, started to face a further risk.

Our correspondent was advised that each the police and officers of the Nigeria Safety and Civil Defence Corps randomly raided among the landlords on allegations of breaking the NNPC pipelines and connecting hoses from the pipes to their wells.

An aged couple, Afusatu Akanni and Nurudeen Akanni, stated that they had misplaced depend of the variety of occasions the police harassed them over their nicely.

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Afusatu, 66, stated the police turned her household to money cows and accused them of constructing their home from proceeds of unlawful oil bunkering.

“Think about a policeman threatening an outdated lady like me? One advised me that the cash we received from promoting the oil in our nicely was what we used to construct our home. A home we constructed over 30 years in the past? Think about that. I by no means bought any oil; I solely took water from my nicely and deserted it once I noticed it had oil,” she stated.

Her husband, 70-year-old Nurudeen, stated to cease the continued police harassment, he determined to dam the nicely with filth.

“That was 5 years in the past. It’s now our refuse dump,” he added, as he confirmed this reporter the waste-clogged nicely.

A tour of the neighborhood revealed a number of wells that had been blocked with filth by their homeowners, who at one time or the opposite had been arrested over comparable allegations.

A few of the households of the landlords, residents stated, paid lots of of 1000’s to get bail from safety companies, who at all times threatened to arraign them on unlawful oil bunkering prices.

In September 2013, a former Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Fashola, turned so livid on the indiscriminate arrest of the landlords that he instructed the Workplace of the Public Defender to take authorized motion on their behalf.

Stories stated the NSCDC had arrested eight residents on Aminatu Ilo Road, on the time, together with a landlord, his spouse and a pregnant lady.

Fashola, by the Commissioner for the Surroundings on the time, Tunji Bello, had stated the arrests have been performed with out correct investigation.

A former Director of the OPD, Mrs Omotola Rotimi, who additionally visited the space that interval, assured that her workplace would take authorized motion and the arrested individuals have been freed.

However in June 2020, greater than seven years after, a port employee and landlord on Shock Avenue, Mr Abayomi Shafe, was additionally arrested by males of the Inspector-Common of Police Intelligence Response Staff, on the identical suspicion of “connecting pipes to the NNPC pipelines to the nicely.”

He was whisked away, as his household was subjected to pains and agony, as a result of the policemen didn’t reveal the place they have been taking him to.

A number of days later, his household received a message that they need to come to Ibadan, Oyo State, to excellent his bail.

When Shafe spoke to our reporter, he was a a lot troubled man.

“I have dug two boreholes, every at the price of N200,000 and so they have been polluted. What have I performed to deserve this? I’m devastated that as an alternative of getting compensated for the loss and inconvenience, together with well being hazards, induced me by the NNPC, I get harassed, embarrassed and humiliated for what I by no means did,” he stated.

The Chairman of the Ejigbo Native Council Growth Space, Bello Oloyede, stated letters and conferences with the NNPC yielded no fruit.

He dismissed claims by safety brokers and the NNPC that residents have been linking their wells to pipelines.

He stated, “The thought of linking the wells with NNPC pipelines is a fabricated lie. I’ve been in authorities for a few years and I do know what is happening. We knowledgeable the NNPC and the state authorities about it. We held stakeholders’ conferences. In the event that they haven’t performed something, we have to proceed making a noise. We can’t transcend reporting to the related authorities.”

The member representing Oshodi/Isolo Constituency on the Lagos State Home of Meeting, Jude Idimogu, stated he was conscious of the spillage.

Idimogu lamented that efforts to get the eye of the NNPC had been futile.

“There was a time we took it up and mentioned it throughout a plenary on the Home of Meeting. We suggested the Federal Authorities and the NNPC to do the needful. However you know how issues like this occur; they stored dragging their legs whereas the police accused residents as in the event that they intentionally dug a gap (to siphon gasoline),” he added.

Ignored

Nigeria has ratified the Worldwide Conference on Oil Air pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation of 1990, which focuses on the accountability of member states to ascertain a system or plan for responding promptly and successfully to grease air pollution incidents.

That is among the many causes for the institution of the Nationwide Oil Spill Contingency Plan of 2010.

The plan stipulates that the federal government, because the environmental conscience of the nation, has a job to play within the spillage of oil, whether or not deliberate or unintentional, so long as the surroundings is impacted.

Emphasis can also be positioned on immediate response to guard the surroundings from each quick and long run injury.

The authorities acknowledges that whereas there could also be third social gathering interruptions when it comes to actions of vandals, minor spills “are extra predominant” in frequency.

The danger of spillage, it says, is greater in areas of concentrated actions just like the depots.

In the occasion of a spill, the Nationwide Oil Spill Detection and Response Company (NOSDRA) is predicted to coordinate all actions, which additionally includes the NNPC, the state and native authorities.

Whereas the issue is being accessed and stuck, remedial steps are anticipated to be taken, together with provision of “boreholes for water provide and different emergency water provide sources.”

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Nevertheless it seems this isn’t the case with Ejigbo.

In response to a prime official at NOSDRA, who’s conversant in the difficulty, the residents are victims of a failed system.

The official, who spoke on situation of anonymity for worry of being sanctioned, defined that Ejigbo is one in all a number of communities battling with environmental air pollution alongside the System 2B Pipeline Community, which runs by Ijegun, Iba, Isheri, Ipaja areas of Lagos.

The official stated residents within the different communities had been grappling with it for many years, including that efforts by NOSDRA to assist them have been futile.

“It’s a nationwide concern proper now. We had numerous discussions with the NNPC and PPMC. Even about three weeks in the past, the top of our company wrote to the Common Managing Director of NNPC, searching for viewers on this subject. There has not been any response. Delegations after delegations met brick partitions. We have written to the Ecological Funds Workplace searching for help to get the place mounted. The Lagos State Environmental Safety Company made efforts with us previously with none resolution. I feel you need to blame the system,” the supply added.

The supply traced the start of the issue with the System 2B Pipeline Community to 1994 when there have been a collection of demonstrations within the nation towards the annulment of the June 12 1993 elections by a former army chief, Common Ibrahim Babangida.

The official recalled that the booster level of the pipeline round Gowon Property, Baruwa in Ipaja, was ruptured, including that the spillage later unfold to different areas.

The general public officer stated the issue worsened over time, because the pipeline additionally wore out and leaked.

“In reality, the nicely in entrance of the home of the normal ruler of Baruwa Property in Ipaja, had gasoline that might energy an old-model automotive. A lot of the individuals within the space can’t use their wells and boreholes.

“The NNPC is meant to treatment the scenario as a result of its subsidiary, the PPMC, is liable for the air pollution,” she added.

In accordance to its official web site, the NNPC is obligated to supply ‘water, sanitation and hygiene’ for communities the place it operates as a part of its company social accountability.

“The peculiarities of the terrain wherein we conduct our companies have necessitated the necessity to present our host communities with entry to clear, secure and drinkable water consistent with the World Well being Group customary,” the NNPC stated.

However for years, it has not cared concerning the wellbeing of the individuals of Ejigbo and its environs, who’ve been impacted by its enterprise actions.

Blame recreation

The Group Common Supervisor, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Dr Kennie Obateru, stated there was no current break or spillage of the pipelines in the Ejigbo neighborhood.

He stated, “I don’t stay locally and I don’t know what is going on. If we have a pipeline operating by the neighborhood, we will probably be involved about whether or not the pipeline is leaking or not. I’m telling you we don’t have any pipeline leaking in Ejigbo.

“Folks go into pipelines, faucet and take merchandise that they wish to take and depart it to proceed to stream. It’s when the NNPC discovers that we go there to restore it, as a result of for us, it’s a enterprise and as a accountable company citizen, we can’t enable gasoline to proceed to stream into the surroundings. However the one which has seeped out on account of the vandalism, there may be nothing that we will do about that. We are able to solely restore the purpose of breakage.”

Obateru declined response to the priority of water air pollution within the space, saying he had no remark.

The Common Supervisor of the Lagos State Environmental Safety Company, Dr Dolapo Fasawe, advised our correspondent some authorities officers had been requested to go to the neighborhood to establish the problems.

Fasawe promised to name a stakeholder’s assembly with a view to handle the problem.

Whereas the NNPC, the state authorities and the residents squabble over the causes and options to the issue, the residents of Sanusi, Shock, Abuna, and different adjoining streets proceed to make use of petrol water to clean down their meals.

Mike Iheanyi-Igwe, a businessman whose enterprise and residential are situated within the neighbourhood, is one in all these hapless residents.

Iheanyi-Igwe, his spouse, and eight kids, drink the water each day, conscious of the penalties however bored with trying to find drinkable water.

“That is the water,” he stated, holding up a cup of foul smelling water, one afternoon after our reporter visited the home the place he’s a tenant.

“We don’t have any possibility, as a result of on this space, there may be nowhere you may get clear water. The water smells, however we drink it like that. What can we do? We don’t have a mouth to speak to the federal government; we have now to manage with it,” he added.

***

Supply: The PUNCH

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