There was an explosion in Lagos on Wednesday after vandals ruptured an oil pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation at Akinbo Island.
As learnt that the culprits came to the jetty in three barges and canoes around 1am and ruptured the splash zone of the pipeline and siphoned thousands of litres of petrol into jerry cans and operated for hours undeterred.
However, around 4.30am, there was a fire outbreak and the pipe through which they siphoned the fuel as well as a canoe were engulfed in flames.
Our correspondent, who visited the area, observed that two security posts were located about 250 metres from the scene.
About 200 melted jerrycans littered the scene.
The Deputy Manager, Pipelines and Product Marketing Company, Atlas Cove, Mr. Banjo Olajide, said he could not say the quantity of petrol lost to the fire but added that petrol was usually pumped at the rate of 600 cubic metres per hour to Mosinmi Depot.
When asked what the PPMC had done to ensure that pipeline vandals were not allowed to operate in the area, Olajide said about 50 policemen and 47 men of the Nigerian Navy as well as operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps usually patrolled the area.
He said the agency had built watchtowers and police posts at the black spots near the pipelines’ right of way.
“We have two security posts and an observatory tower here just about 200 metres away. We have about 50 policemen, 47 naval personnel stationed here. Some NSCDC personnel also patrol the area but they are not here all the time,” he said.
Olajide said Nigerian Army engineers had begun the rehabilitation of the pipelines’ right of way from Atlas Cove and the area was not difficult for security agents to patrol.
Olajide said although oil distribution had been shut down temporarily until the affected pipelines were repaired, the incident would not lead to fuel scarcity.
“It will not affect the supply of fuel. After things have stabilised, we will continue to pump petrol. We will check for leakages and we will make more repairs if need be,” he said.
Officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, who cordoned off the area, said it could not be confirmed if there were any casualties.
The spokesperson, NEMA, South-West Zone, Ibrahim Farinloye, said, “The fire started at midnight between 1am and 4am. On getting there, we could not move too close because the fire was intense. However, the fire was put out around 10:48am.
“We did not see any corpses and we cannot say if anyone was injured. We however recovered a 16mm hose used by the vandals as well as parts of boats used by them
“Over 200 damaged kegs were also recovered. Cooling and pegging process has commenced.”