Lagos — The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Andrew Yakubu, has said that the company may have lost close to N3.6 billion in the six weeks of the latest vandalism of the Arepo pipeline.
From September 2012 to January this year, the System 2B Pipeline at Arepo in Ogun State was tampered with by vandals in the area, at least for the fourth time in a space of four months.The System 2B transports refined petroleum products from the Atlas Cove Jetty in Lagos Mosimi,Ore,Ibadan and Ilorin depots.
Their activities in each of the hack was a colossal loss to the nation in terms of human and material resources. The direct effect of the vandalism sometimes, is scarcity of the product.
Last year,three engineers of the NNPC ,who were fixing ruptured pipelines were cut down in their prime by the vandals.
According to him, the Corporation is losing about N600 million weekly as a result of the recent damage to the pipelines, which occurred on January 13, 2013. The notoriety of vandals at Arepo has assumed a dangerous dimension as the death and ongoing prosecution of those caught in the act has not deterred others from perpetrating the act.
Many wondered what is making Arepo the beehive of vandals in recent times.They also wondered if the authorities vested with the responsibilities of maintaining and keeping vigil over the pipelines are competent to deliver on the mandate.
In one of the pipeline breaks this year, Governor of Ogun State,Ibikunle Amosun was quick to accuse the officials of the NNPC of conniving with the vandals to destroy the nation's economy.
"It shows that we are our own problem in this nation. We are our own enemies, because, this is clearly a failure of governance. We have NNPC there, I have to say it and I am saying it with every sense of responsibility that, NNPC by their inaction is aiding and abetting the vandals.
"I want to believe that they are part of this pipeline vandalism with their inaction. Because, you can't have somebody there as Group Managing Director and then allow this to happen.
"Even the security operatives here are risking their lives. Imagine the canoe NNPC is using at this age and time. Even when they say the place is combustible, they can use solar power canoe. If they agree, I will get all these place cleared before the end of March," he said.
This seems to be a challenge to the NNPC boss, whom on his visit to the Arepo site on January 14 this year promised a hard time for vandals there and the entire country. He also unfolded short and long term measures to redeem Arepo from the hands of thieves and pipeline vandals,some of which include; immediate mobilization of engineers to site to clamp and fix the ruptured points to restore pumping of petroleum products in keeping with his promise that no part of the country would suffer fuel scarcity due to the incident, clearing and rehabilitation of the pipeline 'right of way' and provision of platforms for security men to effectively monitor movements in and around the area.
Other long term measures are, deployment of technology to make the pipeline inaccessible to oil thieves and vandals,as well as collaboration with the state government and other stakeholders for the effective security of the pipeline.
During his visit to the Arepo site last Monday,the NNPC boss announced the deployment of state-of-the-art technology to maintain comprehensive surveillance of the pipeline .
He said the project has the support of President Goodluck Jonathan and the top leadership of the security agencies in the country.
He said the NNPC has contracted the services of an indigenous engineering company, Enikkom,to redirect the pipeline from the reach of vandals with modern technology and to monitor the pipeline regularly.
"The engineering company is bringing modern technology to bear on the system by burying the pipelines much deeper.New pipelines will be used to change the configuration in order to keep pipeline vandals away from the Corporation's critical infrastructure"
According to him, Sapper Engineering Nigeria Limited (Army Corps of Engineers), had cleared about 13 kilometre right of way out of the 30 kilometre target, while work is expected to end in 90 days.
He said the NNPC has also built a watch tower, police post and would ensure that the hot spots would be completely secured,adding that this would also prevent the loss of lives.
He said his company will build a long wide platform that will ensure easy access at anytime for the security forces over the swamp.
The NNPC boss explained that the project is being financed through the N1.2billion the Corporation budgeted to combat pipeline vandalism in the country.
Brigadier General Emeka Okonkwo, representative of the Chief of Army Staff, and who was in-charge of the Corps of Engineers, said that the army is determined to carry out its responsibilities of protecting lives and properties in Nigeria.
The Managing Director, Enikkom Construction, Mr. Edward Amene, whose company is responsible for laying the pipelines, said his company had the technology to bury the pipes 40 metres deep into the ground, adding that the May 2013 deadline for the completion of the project will be met.
Corp Commandant Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp,South West,assured that his officers would key into the project in order to stem the tide of vandals in the area.
He said the Corp is trying its best having successfully charged 21 pipeline vandals in Ogun state to court.
Speaking with our correspondent,a public affairs analyst,Mr Adebayo Joseph said the Corporation should also consider periodic stakeholders and town hall meetings with the communities of Arepo and surburbs.
According to him,the Corporation should also demonstrate the sincerity,commitment and will-power in the ongoing crusade in Arepo and other vandals-infested areas in the country
"While it could not be controverted that NNPC is poised to fight pipeline vandalism in Arepo,one would have thought that communities around this area are taken along in this crusade.The NNPC should realize that technology cannot deliver the result alone without human input.
"The communities equally have several roles in the ongoing crusade against vandalism.They should see themselves as owners of these pipelines and blow the whistle whenever they notice any suspicious movements around them.They should jealously guard these pipelines," he said.