House Probes NNPC’s Compliance with Siting of Tanks Farms, Gas Stations in Residential Areas

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By Udora Orizu

The House of Representative has set up an Ad hoc Committee to investigate compliance with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Pipelines Right of Way, in siting of tanks farms, oil and gas stations within and around residential buildings in the country.

It also directed the committee to investigate electricity power lines, communication cable lines, railway lines, highways and the role of all relevant approving and enforcement government agencies to prevent future disaster and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

The resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion titled, ‘Need to Investigate Compliance with All Rights of Way in Nigeria, Siting of Oil and Gas Stations as well as Tank Farms within Residential Areas,’ sponsored by Hon. Chike John Okafor.

Okafor, presenting the motion, noted that the reoccurring pipeline fire disasters in Nigeria with devastating effects is a situation which has been alleged to be mostly linked to the abuse of pipeline right of way by individuals, organizations and corporate bodies as the safety distance zone (right of way) between 600 and 700 feet is being flagrantly abused.

He said the House is aware that there are over 400 filling stations located within and around residential buildings in Nigeria and pollution from petrol stations could contaminate buildings as far as 100 metres.

He also said the indiscriminate and hazardous siting of oil and gas stations as well as tank farms within residential areas against the approved distance of safety and prevention of health hazards, has led to loss of lives and destruction of properties due to their locations.

Okafor expressed concerns that the violation of Power Lines Right of Way portends great danger, and any encroachment in those areas of safety is hazardous to lives and properties.

Meanwhile, the House, adopting a motion sponsored by Hon. Abass Adigun, urged the federal government to direct its energy, resources and focus on how to diversify the economy from dependence on oil to avert the looming implosion.

It also urged the federal government to liberalize land tenure system to make it possible and easy for some of the 27 million unemployed Nigerians to have access to land to engage in farming.

It further urged the federal government to set up a special committee to deliberate on the post oil economy in Nigeria and make appropriate recommendations that would guarantee the survival of the nation’s economy.

It mandated its Committees on Petroleum Resources (Downstream and Upstream) and National Planning and Economic development to ensure compliance.

Presenting the motion, Adigun said the continuous dependence on crude oil is failing Nigeria as the era of oil is gone and Nigeria is never going to become an industrialized nation by selling more oil, even if the oil market recovers.

He opined that this present awakening is a blessing in disguise as it should compel the government to take far-reaching actions that will free the nation from the entrapment of crude oil economy.