By Oko Ebuka
In continuous agitation to direct the attention of the Federal, State and Local Governments towards their suffering, the residents of satellite town and Ijegun Egba took to the streets in a peaceful protest against the citing of over 50 tank farms in the area by 12 companies.
The community is appealing to the appropriate government authorities to come to their rescue by relocating the tank farms which started operating in the community since 2012, to another place as well as revoking the licenses fraudulently procured by some of the marketing companies operating in the said area.
In an exclusive interview with Sunday Vanguard, the chairman of satellite town forum, Governor Michael Imitini, said that the protest is the only avenue in which they can express their awful feelings towards the hardship they are facing as all the tiers of government have totally abandoned them.
According to him, “the essence of this peaceful march is to call the attention of the federal government, state government, all relevant agencies that have given approval for tank farms to be cited in a residential area to come and listen to our demands which are as follows: that satellite town is a residential area which is not meant to be defaced by any kind of investment whatsoever.
“What we need is that there should be no tank farm, we ha have 12 companies operating over 50 tank farms, and there are incidents of fire outbreak in this community severally which obstructs the normal daily activities.
“We have written position papers and letters to various tiers of government and its agencies; Federal, State and Local governments. But it has appeared that the more we suffer and complain, the more our hardship increases.
“Our people are losing patience, the youths of the community are asking serious questions and we the elders are moping back at them because we are dumbfounded beyond expression”, he said
Also in her own expression, a septuagenarian, who has lived in the community for more than 35 years, Mabel Ehirim, stressed that the community has completely deteriorated and have changed from the serene environment it used to be to a dangerous contraption waiting for explosion.
“In 1980 when we moved in here, it was a serene area where people look forward to live in. in fact, the big me doesn’t want to live in this area at all because they thought it was bush but the vegetation made us to live around here.
“Suddenly, the tank farms started coming from one to two, and when it came, there was a move initially to stage this type of protest but they went and told former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, and he kicked against it, so within this period it has escalated because the number has so much increased and is now threatening our lives.
“At every point, you find out these boys who are siphoning naked fuels all over the place in NNPC headquarters where I am currently residing. It is very unhealthy because the gutters have been flooded by fuels, making it greenish in color therefore blocking the free flow of water.
“We have been crying, I personally went to the police station to cry out for help but they didn’t do anything, I went to Festac police, they also didn’t do anything. We have also written to Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR many times, even when we had fire incidence on the high tension pole they didn’t respond to us.
“Many people have lost their precious lives on this road. The records are there. There was an incident of a boy who was crushed to death by a tanker while returning from school, and also a woman who was knocked down too”, she said.
Another prominent member and also the media committee chairman, satellite forum, Mr. Ndubisi Okafor, said that the situation has caused unimaginable environmental hazards by bringing total psychological, material, emotional and social loss in the entire community.
“The environmental loss has been very impactful and unquantifiable because whenever there is a gridlock there will be no movement. People are trapped. To go out is a problem to come in is also a problem. Some people usually sleep there on the street because of the gridlock. We cannot quantify the material loss because the situation is affecting the life expectancy of everybody residing in this community. The pressure is much. There is a total collapse in the system and as well as infrastructural decay.
“The environmental impact is equally much because a lot of houses are going down due to stagnation of waters in the environment, pollution and all kinds of diseases are affecting the community which is very unfortunate that you will start imagining who gave these people licenses to come and even operate such hazardous business in a residential area”, he concluded.
Furthermore, Rev. Nwakaego Jessica also told Sunday Vanguard that the situation has caused unnecessary accidents which have led to the death of many people including children, as well as affecting their various businesses within the area. She also hopes that the new Lagos State governor, His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, will come to their rescue.
Another concerned member of the forum, Omoh Gabriel, disclosed that the influx of tankers in the area is hugely caused by the bribery and corruptible practices exchanging hands from the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and the truck drivers because of lack of call-up system.
According to him, “Over the last 10 years we have up to 50 tank farms coming up here now. The NUPENG there collects about N1, 000 naira per truck, so the more truck they allow in, the more money they get. This place supposed to be a complete residential area but along the line, these people came and bought these lands. They bought it from individuals; it wasn’t allocated to them by any government or agency and they claimed to build housing estate but all of a sudden they started building tank farms”, he affirmed.