25 February 2014, Lagos – Many residents of Ijegun-Imore, in Ojo Local Government area of Lagos, are still telling stories of woes. This is weeks after a ruptured pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation discharged fuel into their homes.
The incident which occurred on Saturday January 25 has affected many people in different ways.
While some of them have yet to recover from complications, allegedly caused by the toxic fumes inhaled, some say the NNPC officials who carried out repair on the burst pipeline did a shoddy job. They are alleging that the engineers did not repair the roads affected.
One of the landlords, whose house is close to the point where the repair was effected, Chief Edward Ododo, laments to our correspondent on Monday that it is difficult for him and his neighbours to access their homes with their cars.
He explains that the place where the repair was carried out has narrowed down the road, and thus only motorcycles can pass through there.
He says, “It is annoying that some people who have cars cannot access their houses with their cars anymore. Help us appeal to the relevant authorities that they need to come back and do it properly. Even those who are constructing new houses cannot get trucks carrying sand, granites and other building materials to their sites.”
For Obodo, this is not the only problem facing the residents. While the fuel spilled in the community for days, without any respite, some of them, especially children, developed some health problems.
He narrates his ordeal, “I had to visit a private hospital for a diagnosis of my health condition after the incident, and the doctor recommended drugs for me.
“One of the drugs cost N4,500 and another cost N3,500. That is just for the treatment of my eyes. There are still others I did not mention. You can see that I am an old man.”
It is not only Pa Obodo that has health challenges. A retired Naval rating, who is also a landlord, Mr. Ukani Mohammed, says one of his children, Nataniel, a Primary Three pupil, fainted during the incident. He ended up in the hospital, and he’s currently recuperating in their house.
Mohammed adds that he suffered sleepless nights because of the suffocating odour emanating from the fuel that was gushing out of the damaged pipe.
He says in pidgin English, The whole place, na so so fuel. And the thing dey pepper the eye well well. I no fit sleep for three days.
Another resident with a health challenge, Mrs. Anthonia Williams, laments that she and her children had to relocate to their pastor’s house for some time. She tells our correspondent that her children also suffered some health challenges, and the doctor had recommended milk for them to cure what they inhaled.
She says, “Everyday, my children and I have to drink three tins of milk to ensure that we do not fall sick again after the fuel spillage.”
Just like Obodo, she’s afraid that the pipes may burst again because they were not replaced, instead they were patched and partially buried under the ground.
Williams says, “My fear now be say when they cover the pipe, then no cover am well. You can see that they did not cover the portion where dem do the repair well, well.”
Mohammed says the community now has another duty on their hands. They monitor the points where the repair was done, to ensure that criminals do not come there to siphon fuel again.
On Monday, no security men were seen for over three hours that our correspondent ‘toured’ the community.
Ijegun-Imore is indeed in dire need of infrastructure. There is no trace of modernity there. No tarred roads, no proper drainage, no pipe-borne water, and the community is situated on a swampy terrain, where water channels course through at will. Many of the landlords use connecting planks to get into their houses.
– The Punch