A member of the House of Representatives representing Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta-Oru West federal constituency of Imo state, Honourable Uju Kingley Chima has called for the establishment of a pipeline protection Commission to protect the nation’s oil pipeline from constant vandalisation.
Rep. Chima who spoke on the constant pipeline explosion in parts of the country also called for the unbundling of the oil and gas sector to make it more effective to the yearning and aspiration of Nigerians.
He lamented the neglect of the oil producing communities that has been ravaged by oil spillage in the past and called for immediate intervention by relevant government agencies, but wonder why government agencies who are supposed to take charge of monitoring the oil companies are afraid to carry out their assigned mandate.
The lawmaker who flies the flag of the Action Alliance in the House disclosed that he was preparing a bill that will create a special commission that will over-see pipeline management in the country.
“The government is losing alot of revenue to these vandals. When they burst these pipelines, a lot of barrel of crude oil is lost daily and sometimes, it takes weeks to repair the damaged portion.
“Considering the huge lose we suffer daily, we should be considering the establishment of oil and pipeline protection commission which will make it mandatory for the oil commission to apply preventive and protective measures as well as take care of pipeline corrosion.
“Some of these pipelines are over 30 years old and the pipeline act says you have to change them after every 30 years. Most of the pipelines are long over due for replacement. We should also be testing the life span of these pipelines to see if they are old enough to be replaced.
So, I think there are things that we need to do to ensure that responsible human beings should be incharge of certain happenings in our oil and gas sector.
“I am in total support of unbundling the oil and gas sector because the over concentration of command and control of the sector has over stretched solutions to some of these problems.
“If we have the commission, all the pipeline companies will now be making some contribution to the commission thereby enabling it to function properly. Their duty will be to manage the security and surveillance of the pipelines for all the oil companies and this will improve the security of all our pipelines. In the course of their maintenance, if there are areas of compensations to communities, it will be their duty to handle that from the percentage they get.”
While expressing concern about the incessant pipeline vandalisation leading to fire incidents in oil producing communities in the country, the lawmaker condemned what he described as non challant attitude of some government agencies saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the safety of our environment.
He said “the problem is the non challant attitude of some of these agencies that oversight some of the activities of these oil companies. It appears that the oil companies are so powerful that some of these agencies and even the Ministries are scared of approaching them to do some of those things they are supposed to do.
“Once an environment is polluted, it is the duty of the agencies concerned to move in and ascertain how the environment should be cleaned up. These guys living in the coastal line of our country are suffering today and the only way we can assist them is to make sure that they are safe.
“That is why the National Assembly put in place some of these laws that will enable our people enjoy the liberty of natural given environment. I am using this opportunity to ask these agencies to move into these communities and take charge of their core mandate.
“Whether we like it or not, this is the only way that Nigerians can feel the impact of their assignment. If we keep budgeting money for these agencies to operate yearly and yet, our people in the Niger Delta and beyond are complaining of environmental degradation, how do we feel the impact of the money we budget for them?
Let the recent oil spillage in Imo state be the contact point for all others that have happened in the past. The oil companies will always tell you it is sabotage. But if I am to pass judgement, I will say that once an environment has been polluted, we should no longer play the blame game as people have already inhaled the offensive and hazardous pollutant chemicals.
We should also be able to tell the oil companies to provide security along their pipelines. If proper security is provided along the pipelines, there should also be proper engagement with the communities to address cases of anticipated sabotage.
“But once it occurs, there should be no blame game, but what we should be looking at is how to save the lives of those living around the vicinity. That is why we should make sure that our environment is safe. I am asking the oil companies involved including NNPC, Shell, Agip and NPDC to save the lives of the people living in that vicinity, ascertain the extent of damage and find a way to salvage the situation.”
He called for the unbundling of the oil and gas sector, saying “the truth of the matter is that we need to sanitise our oil sector. We need to properly incident issues in such a way that people should be held responsible for some of these things.
“Somebody is in charge of the pipelines both in NNPC and DPR. We should be talking about the role of some of these officers involved in the protection of these facilities.”