After the disastrous pipeline explosion at Osisioma, Abia State last month, fear has gripped Ohiaocha-Umunwanwa community in Umuahia South Local Government Area of the state following the exposure of NNPC pipelines due to erosion in the area.
The community leaders said they were not comfortable that the pipelines which pass through their community are exposed and therefore vulnerable to vandals who could easily break them without having to dig them up.
Road users are also concerned about their safety as the two pipelines are not only exposed to the elements but are impacted daily by moving vehicles and pedestrians.
The people express fear that the pipelines belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) could burst at any time.
Aside from the exposed pipelines we counted 10 houses already affected by erosion and many of the people rendered homeless.
Similarly, many other buildings in the villages are currently on the verge of collapse, while others are under serious threat due to heavy flooding in the area.
“If the danger is not averted, we should be ready for anything,” the secretary of Ohiaocha Consultative Assembly (OCA), Mr Friday Okanta said.
At the site, Okanta said the danger posed by the exposed NNPC pipeline should be attended to by the owners as it could bust any time due to exposure to the elements and could also go up in flames.
He explained that the traditional rulers from the area have made several moves to draw the attention of NNPC to the danger posed by the exposed pipeline. “But their efforts have not yielded any positive result from the NNPC,” he added.
Okanta said the OCA has decided to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to step into the issue via a presidential directive to the NNPC to intervene without any further delay to avert danger.
A motorist, Johnson Kanu, said all those concerned should come to the aid of the people of Ohiaocha to save them from being cut off from their kith and kin as the road will soon be inaccessible, while NNPC should take the necessary steps to avoid pipeline explosion.
An indigene of the area, Asonye Chimere, said government should come to their aid by attending to the various erosion sites identified in the area, stressing that it is one of the ways to cover up the exposed NNPC oil pipeline once the erosion sites were reclaimed.
He recalled that in 2003 there was pipeline explosion around Isiukwuato (a community next to them) which killed many people, adding that the community cannot afford to lose its residents and indigenes to constant pipeline explosion because of the negligence of those concerned.
we recalls that in 2003, several people lost their lives to a pipeline explosion which occurred when people from Amiyi-Uhu and its environs went to scoop diesel from a pipe that was broken by vandals.
It was reported that one of those scooping the petroleum product had tried to start his motorcycle and a spark ignited the entire area leading to fire which consumed several people.
To prevent vandals from taking advantage of the exposed pipelines Senator Theodore Orji has visited Ohiaocha and appealed to the community leaders to do everything in their power to restrain youths from tampering with the pipelines pending when the relevant authorities would secure them.
He therefore called on the NNPC to hasten up and secure the pipelines and not ignore the alarm raised by the people of Ohiaocha to stop the situation from getting out of hand.
Former chairman of Umuahia South local government, Chief Jerry Uzosike, lamented that erosion had eaten up the whole area and exposed the pipelines thereby making them more tempting to vandals.
The member Representing Umuahia/Ikwuano Federal Constituency, Chief Sam Onuigbo, who expressed concern over the situation, said there is need to urgently address erosion in the area and issues that could cause fire disaster.
Onuigbo expressed concern that a town in Umuahia South Local Government Area of the state had the Petroleum Management Company (PPMC) pipeline passing through it but had been left to be devastated by erosion.
He said that similar alerts had been sent to the Federal Government and its agencies such as the NNPC, to step in and prevent a reoccurrence of the sad consequences such as the explosion recently in Osisioma.
“I must say that the erosion issue at Umunwanwa, in Umuahia South LGA, has reached alarming proportion. Which was what prompted me to raise it to a matter of urgent national importance, and promptly move a motion for the Ecological Fund Office to immediately provide funding to tackle this issue before a tragedy occurs.
However NNPC is yet to respond to the request put in byDaily Trustas at the time of filling this report. Daily Trust