From Uche Usim, (Abuja) and Ben Dunno, Warri
Nine days after wild bush fire ruptured its Escravos to Lagos (ETL) gas pipeline in Ondo State, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Thursday suffered another pipeline damage along Egbokodo-Omadino, in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.
Though, the extent of damage has not been ascertained, but the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru has directed that repair works be carried out immediately on ELP ruptured pipeline in order to restore supplies to power generating companies and other gas consumers.
Baru further directed that gas supply from other sources including Oben, Oredo, Sapele, Ughelli and Utorogu be stepped up to augment any shortfall as repair works have commenced on the pipeline.
“The Escravos pipeline supplies gas to power plants, in addition to feeding the West Africa Gas Pipeline System”, he said.
The explosion which occurred at about 4.15am at Ijere Community caused severe tension and apprehension among residents who were initially confused on what could have been responsible for devastating explosion.
Although there is still no official confirmation as to what could have been responsible for the explosion, but unofficial sources attributed the cause to an act of sabotage as it was widely believed that a bomb could have been detonated round the pipeline.
This view was, however, faulted by some persons especially the indigenes of the community who alleged that the explosion was a result of system failure due to the carelessness of the officials of NGC that operates the gas pipeline which passed through their community.
The explosion which later led to a devastating fire outbreak around the vicinity of the pipeline right of way, saw residents of the area running helter skelter to salvage their belongings as it was feared the raging fire would spread to their other settlement due to the harmattan haze. Sources close to the incident, however, expressed disappointment with the the official of the Warri Fire Fighting Department for not being able to come to their rescue in spite of the repeated distress calls made to the department fire service in the middle of the fire outbreak.
It was learnt that the officials complaint of non availability of operational vehicles, personnel and equipment to mobilise to the scene of the incident and rather referred the residents to the nearby WRPC fire station and Chevron fire department for assistance.
The head of the Warri Fire Fighting Services, who identified himself as Mr. Paul when contacted by Daily Sun, said there were two operational fire fighting vehicles already grounded as a result of being over used in the last two months due to frequent fire incidents in the city.
He explained that the last vehicle that would have been deployed to the area had some mechanical problems two days ago while on official fire fighting duty at Ogiyede area in Warri South Council and had been abandoned at the mechanic workshop since then.