By Chiemelie Ezeobi
Following the destruction of yet another pipeline in Lagos at the weekend, residents of four communities all in Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos State have sent distress calls to the appropriate authorities over the attendant health implications of the ruptured pipeline in their areas.
The residents of the four communities which include Oluwole Bisiriyu, Ilori Coker, Kayode Williams Estate and Akute-Odo areas have complained of serious stomach upset, nausea and coughing as a result of the pollution.
THISDAY gathered that the health complications arose following another round of pipeline vandalism on an Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline which was ruptured by the vandals and its contents left to spill into the Ogun River.
Sources said the contents of the ruptured pipeline which was left unattended to until yesterday when it was fixed by a team of engineers, had polluted the water in which the victims drank from.
For the past two months, the media have been awash with several reported incidents of pipeline vandalism which had claimed several lives, left many others with varying degrees of injuries and destroyed properties worth millions of naira.
Confirming the incident to THISDAY, the Information Officer, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), South-west, zone, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, said residents have been urged to abstain from drinking the water for the time being.
He said, “NEMA has strongly advised Nigerians who live around the areas affected by the spilling of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) against inhaling the product as a result of the indiscriminate activities of vandals who destroyed the pipelines, leaving the product to spill all around the areas.”
He said the warning became necessary as a result of distress calls from the residents of all the affected areas who complained of severe stomach upset, nausea and coughing.
He said they swung into action upon getting the alert but they first informed the safety personnel of NNPC on the development.
Having mobilised the NNPC safety personnel, Farinloye said they swung into action and fixed the ruptured pipeline to stop the leakage.
He said, “The vandals broke the pipeline, scooped the products and left it open until the effect spread across the Ogun River.
“To contain the situation, the safety personnel blanketed (a technical term for using chemicals to clean up such polluted water) the affected water, thereby neutralising the powers of the spilled product.
“By blanketing the area, we have prevented chances of a fire outbreak because when you pour chemical, it weakens the product.”
However, he maintained that despite the blanketing, residents of the affected areas are strongly enjoined to avoid consumption and usage of the water in the next three years.
He also advised the residents to seek further medical tests, advice and treatments as part of long-term measures against future complications.
He said, “We pleads with communities and residents of any disaster-risk areas to join hands in reduction management as the immediate and long term effects of disasters are mostly inflicting negative impacts on the poor and less privileged.”