Lagos Pipeline Fire Guts 100 Shops, 50 Vehicles

  • NNPC probes incident assures of stable products supply

Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos and Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The activities of pipeline vandalism have caused an explosion at the Abule Egba area of Lagos State, and affected some areas of Agege, gutting no fewer than 100 shops and 50 vehicles.

This is coming as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has disclosed it has directed its subsidiary, Nigerian Pipeline and Storage Company (NPSC), to carry out a full investigation to establish the cause of the fire outbreak.

Although there were initial fears that the explosion killed so many people, emergency workers, however, later debunked the claim.

However, five persons, including a widow, Ruth Joseph, and her son, Samuel, sustained varying degree of injuries.

The fire started at about 2 a.m. at Abule Egba before extending to Agric Junction, Abattoir in Agege area.

Those who were on ground to control the situation included police operatives, Lagos State Neighbourhood Corps (LNSC), Lagos State Fire Service and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA).

Out of the 50 vehicles that were razed, 19 belonged to a dealer, one Usman Hamzat.

Aside Hamzat’s cars parked at Samar Petroleum, three other car shops in the area were also razed.

The fire, which started in front of a private school at Segun Akinola Street, opposite Tiper Garage near Awori Bus stop, Abule Egba, was said to have been triggered by activities of vandals, who allegedly brought in three tankers of siphoned petrol.

According to other residents, the vandals who dug a hole to connect their hose to the NNPC pipelines had dropped the hose inside the gutter without locking the valves.

The petrol was said to have circulated through the gutter to Abattoir area where it ignited fire as a result of activities of early morning butchers, destroying every property along the path the fuel traversed.

Areas affected by the inferno included Arowolo Street, Shogbawole, Adefegba, Katonwi, Santos, Taiwo Adewole, Wamon Taofeek, Owode, Akinlere streets.

Others included Charity Road Junction opposite Oko Oba Market and parts of Ile-Epo and Abattoir

The residents also accused fire service of late arrival to the scene, noting that emergency responders got there around 4a.m., two hours after the explosion.

General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Adesina Tiamiyu; Police Commissioner Edgal and officials from NNPC and other agencies visited the affected areas.

The Commander of Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Tunji Disu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, was on the spot with his men to prevent hoodlums from looting victims property and money when they ran for their lives.

Personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Red Cross officials were also on ground to protect live and property.

According to Tiamiyu, the fire affected nine streets, destroyed 38 vehicles, four tricycles, 71 shops, 30 rooms, two blocks of flat and a church auditorium.

Edgal accused the residents of the area of complicity, adding that they cannot claim they were not aware of activities of vandals in the area.

He told them to be thankful that the fuel passed through the gutter which cushioned the severity, noting that it would have been disastrous if the reverse were the case.

Meanwhile, NNPC yesterday disclosed it has directed its subsidiary, Nigerian Pipeline and Storage Company (NPSC), to carry out a full investigation to establish the cause of the fire outbreak, which occurred in the early hours of Wednesday.

It said the NPSC would also begin the repair of the broken line immediately, assuring that the incident will not result to scarcity of petroleum products within Lagos and its immediate environs.

NNPC’s Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, in a statement, assured of adequate petroleum products supply in Lagos and its environs despite the pipeline fire incident.

Baru, said the NNPC had effectively put in place strategies to ensure that the unfortunate incident would not undermine products supplies during the festive period.

He maintained that the NNPC has enough stock of petrol, and other products, adding that the company’s petrol stock would last about 45 days even in the absence of fresh supplies.

Baru equally advised members of the public not to engage in panic buying, and commiserated with families of the victims of the fire incident, while admonishing Nigerians to keep away from NNPC’s pipelines.