By Ugo Aliogo and Rebecca Ejifoma
The House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Tank Farms has ruled out plans to relocate tank farms in Satellite Town, Kirikiri and Ijegun-Egba communities in Lagos State.
Furthermore, the committee also appealed to all stakeholders, including operators, regulatory agencies and host communities, to continue to engage themselves harmoniously in order to find solution and common ground to the crisis in the area.
A motion was recently moved on the floor of the House by the representative of Amuwo-Odofin federal constituency, Hon. Oghene Egoh, for the relocation of tank farms in the aforementioned areas to another area in the state.
Speaking at a town hall meeting in Lagos recently, the Chairman, House Ad-hoc Committee, Sergius Ogun, said there were obvious questions that the House needed to put before the approving agencies, as “the tank operators have told us that they have done so much for the areas,” adding however that the communities still wanted more Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.
The chairman further explained that they had informed the operators to present what they had done so far as CSR, stating that they would also engage the state government over the matter.
According to him, “The tank farms operators also pay tax, therefore, there should be harmony and collaboration among the state, federal, operators and the communities to see how we can ensure that everyone is satisfied. If we all seek common ground, the businesses can live side by side with human beings (residents), which now brings us to the issue of safety.
“We have told the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to give us the safety audit because they claim they have it. We are insisting that operators must carry out everything in the recommendation. We believe the communities can live side by side with tank farm operators.
We have come here to establish that the agencies can work in harmony with the operators and the communities, because if anything happens to these tank farms, 35 per cent supply of petroleum products in this country would be cut off. This is a serious area of concern to all of us.”
In his remarks at the town hall meeting, the Controller General of the Fire Service of Nigeria, Alhaji Liman Ibrahim, said there was need for the establishment of a central fire service station in Satellite Town, Kirikiri and Ijegun- Egba communities in order to promote and ensure safety of lives and property of the residents.
Ibrahim, who was represented by the Assistant Controller General, Abdulganiyu Jaji, promised that the agency would provide personnel to support the tank farm operators, while urging them to put in place the necessary infrastructure.
“Although the tank farms operators should focus on training of personnel, there is need for synergy between tank farm operators and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR). In Apapa axis, there are some tank farms that are very close to the residential areas which the House should consider critically,” Ibrahim noted.
In his remarks, the state Commissioner for Town Planning and Urban Development, Idris Salako, expressed dissatisfaction at the state government over the ‘unregulated siting of tank farms in the state.”
According to him, “Eight years ago, the state government stopped giving approval permits for citing of tank farms, except they were to be located to Ibeju-Lekki free trade zone.”
Salako further maintained that eight years later, the ministry had been inundated by the host communities of the activities of tank farm operators, which prompted the state government to ask the ministry to engage them on how to manage the situation.
He said: “The tank farm owners should be responsive to the needs and plights of the host communities. Most of the tank farms at Kirikiri don’t have approval permits. The infrastructure of Satellite Town has been ruined by the activities of tank farms activities, and even if the tank farms operators relocate to Ibeju-Lekki, without proper planning, the aim will also be defeated.
“We have lifted the ban on construction of tank farms, and we urge them to improve on their CSR. The Lagos State Building Control Agency is compiling lists of those who have the approval to build tank farms.”
In his presentation, the Deputy Director, Oil and Gas of Federal Ministry of Environment, Nafiu Akinpelu, hinted that the tank farms should embark on operating audit and upgrade of their oil-water separating system.
Akinpelu expressed the need for tank farm operators to have a global Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on CSR with the host communities.
“There should have an audit report that will cover for a lot of issues such as health and safety, as well as the agitation of the host communities not to sabotage the facilities,” he added.
In his remarks, the Alahun of Imoore and Apapa Kingdom, Oba Taofik Akeju-Awojo, said the people petitioning the federal government were those working against the progress of the community.
According to the traditional ruler, “Since, the tank farms started operations in the communities, crime rates have dropped and employment opportunities have been created. If you move the tank farms away from these areas, there will be untold hardship and poverty in the communities.”