ENDING PIPELINE VANDALISM
Incessant oil pipeline vandalism is daily taking a frightening proportion, as vandals are becoming more daring in their criminal activities whilst meting untold hardship on the nation’s economy.
For instance, the country is losing about 150,000 barrels of crude oil to this criminal elements every day, meaning about $6.5 million is lost to vandalism daily. Also, most oil companies are being forced to shut down operations as a result of incessant vandalisation of the pipelines.
A few days ago, an explosion occurred when some oil vandals severed a petroleum pipeline and went on to scoop fuel into jerry cans at Ije Ododo, though the NNPC had shut flow to the pipeline and locked supply valves.
Days after, there is still burning with thick smoke billowing from the area and rescuers are yet to get to the scene of the incident due to the swampy nature of the terrain. Worthy of note is the fact that Ije Ododo that is being vandalised is direct from the Atlas Cove which supplies products to Mosimi, a critical supply facility which supports strategic supply chain that distributes products to other parts of the South-West zone.
No doubt, incessant vandalism remains a threat to the country’s socio-economic development. Aside the usual deaths recorded, fatal injuries to the perpetrators and the environmental effects, it also has the potentials of wiping out a whole community where such vandalism occurs.
More so, it undermines the ability to pump products from the various depots, which often results to scarcity of petroleum products across the country.
However, in spite of the inherent dangers associated with this criminal act, vandals are not discouraged nor are they willing to give up their nefarious operation because of the quick money they often make doing this shady business.
More worrisome is that the vandals have moved from just pipeline vandalisation and oil theft to that of killing and even kidnapping those saddled with the task of protecting and monitoring the pipelines across the country.
On several occasions the vandals clash with security personnel, police and officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC. At other times, the plans outlined towards checking the activities of these criminals are often frustrated by unnecessary inter- agency wrangling.
It is against this backdrop that we urge the government to as a matter of urgency strengthen its security apparatus to checkmate the growing rate of oil pipeline and the vandalism. Worst still is how the concerned communities do not cooperate with relevant security agencies to either arrest the criminals or protect the oil pipelines within their communities.
So government and the oil companies must embark on an aggressive anti-oil pipeline awareness campaign to sensitize the people of the damaging effects of this growing menace.
Though, government is not helpless in the fight against oil pipeline vandalism, but it should step up efforts at fully deploying a digital system of surveillance which might be expensive to install. This technology may cost more, but the overall benefits; particularly what the government will be saving from vandalism is worth the investment.
In the long run, the fight against oil pipeline vandals and theft is tough but not insurmountable. All that is needed is for the law enforcement agencies and everyone to be committed to the cause to sustain the campaign against this criminality. therefore, we urge government at all levels to allow its aggressive campaign to be driven with new and progressive zeal that will incorporate all in the society.