FEAR GRIPS ABIA COMMUNITY AS EROSION EXPOSES PETROLEUM PIPELINES.
“Our greatest concern are the petrol pipelines, each conveying products to NNPC Enugu depot and the North. The gully erosion has exposed them, hanging over twenty feet, this is a time bomb that can wipe many communities in Abia and Imo states.”
Chinwe Ugele, Umuahia.
Unless the governments at all levels intervene in the Umunwanwa erosion menace, a major disaster may just be lurking somewhere around to happen .
The five kilometer Umunwanwa-Mbaise interstate road has been devastated by erosion which consequently dug deep, exposing the oil installations in the community.
This has posed a great threat and danger to the community and even commuters following the inability of the different contractors awarded the project since 1970 to do a good job.
Both communities of Umunwanwa in Umuahia south, Abia state and Udo-Ekenobizi in Imo state have watched the situation degenerate from bad to worse and are now afraid that it might get to the worst situation where lives may be lost.
Apart from the exposed pipelines, the erosion has equally destroyed homes, rendering over two hundred families homeless, affected their public schools, church, and even electric transformers.
The traditional ruler on Ngodo Umunwanwa, Umuahia South, local government council, Eze Stephen Ihuoma has called for an urgent intervention by the relevant bodies especially the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to avert a likely explosion.
“What has happened here is terrible, it is better imagined than seen. This gully is the worst that has occurred in any part of Nigeria, measuring over twenty feet with basic amenities that were gotten from frantic efforts all washed away. Look at our school, the church over there and even the electricity transformer,” the traditional ruler said.
To ensure vandals don’t capitalize on the unfortunate situation, the community has also set up a special security guard to monitor the exposed pipelines until government takes appropriate actions.
This move comes with huge financial burden on the community which has to pay the personnel it hired for the security services daily, and so may not be able to carry this responsibility for too long.
The President General of Umunwanwa community, High Chief Ekedichi Nwaosuagwu said the youth of the area have been advised to stay clear of the pipelines.
He said, “The community is now paying security people every day to guard the pipelines because of vandals. It is very expensive and I don’t know how long we can continue to do that, government has to act very urgently.”
The project manager, Nigeria Erosion Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), Abia State, Mr. Izuchukwu Onwughara, said they are still evaluating the damage to know the extent of palliative they will apply before the major work.
“We have sent our surveyors to the site, necessary evaluations are being done for possible palliative before the major work, the NNPC is a critical stakeholder here because of the pipelines, we will definitely inmvolve the corporation in finding solutions in line with international best practices,” he said.
Recall that a few months ago, so many lives were lost to pipeline explosion at Osisioma due to negligence of duty by the relevant authorities early enough.