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Lagos pipeline explosion blamed on thieves

NNPC's Mele Kyari visits the Abule Egba disaster site
NNPC's Mele Kyari visits the Abule Egba disaster site

An explosion in a Lagos neighbourhood has been extinguished, but it has left five dead, according to local reports.

A pipeline exploded in Abule Egba at around 8 pm on January 19. According to the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) it was brought under control by 9 pm and declared extinguished at 11:30 pm. In addition to the five reported dead, an unknown number of people are in hospital in critical condition.

The Lagos state government called for “all to remain calm but report suspicious activities to curtail the instances of these unfortunate incidents”. A number of houses were burned as a result of the pipeline fire.

Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu gave thanks to the response from LASEMA and fire fighters. “Pipeline vandals will be shown no mercy. We must work together to ensure man-made incidents like Abule Egba are avoided. Security and information gathering along volatile corridors will increase and a stronger synergy with communities must happen. We all have a role to play.”

Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.’s (NNPC) head Mele Kyari visited the site to examine the damage done.

Kyari said that the line had been fully restored was now back on stream. “Petroleum products are flowing all the way from Atlas Cove to Mosimi all the way to Ilorin Depot. We enjoin everyone to work with us in sustaining this,” Kyari said. The NNPC official also called for people to report on “the bad eggs in the midst” as pipeline explosions were “becoming a matter of national security concern”. If they are allowed to continue, he said, “they will eventually kill all of us”.

While there is a high incidence of theft from pipelines in Nigeria, local authorities are not exempt from scrutiny. Construction of houses on pipeline rights of way is dangerous for just such a reason.

This is not the first time such an accident has occurred in Abule Egba. Thieves tapped a line in December 2006, which led to a fuel spill. Locals attempted to gather up the product but a fire was ignited. Although accurate records are lacking, one estimate suggests that as many as 500 people died in the fire.

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