Barely two months after petroleum tanker explosion killed scores of persons in Onitsha, Anambra State, fear of another disaster is waiting to happen at Ekpan, Uvwie LGA of Delta State following an oil spillage from a ruptured crude oil pipeline at the NigerCat area allegedly belonging to Heritage Nigeria Limited.
According to a resident and member of the Izegbo family who are the ancestral landlords of the affected area, Mr Benson Otomiewo, the pipeline ruptured on Monday, 23rd of September 2019, and substances suspected to be crude oil spilt, gushing out for several days.
Mr Otomiewo said the crude oil flowed like water into various compounds in the neighbourhood contaminating their land, water, destroying plants and aquatic life.
He noted that worst hit was a private property under construction belonging to Mr Austin Wareyai, which shares a boundary with the faulty facility.
Otomiewo noted that the crude oil forced its way into the compound through the fence and took over the compound, forcing construction work to stop.
Owner of the affected property, Mr Austin Wareyai, who spoke off-camera, in tearful countenance, said his property which has gulped millions of naira is under threat, as any little ignition will spell doom for it and others in the area.
He added that hundreds of lives and property worth billions of naira would be lost should there be any fire outbreak, as the affected area is close to a filling station, Petroleum Tankers Park and several residential and business buildings.
Mr Wareyai and Mr Otomiewo alleged that they have written series of letters to the company in question to clean up the affected areas and their letters have remained unheeded.
They are appealing to the Federal and Delta State Governments, authorities of the NNPC, WRPC, PPMC, NOSDRA, Ministries of Environment, human rights and environmental justice groups to prevail on the management of the company to urgently carry out an elaborate clean up of the area.
Residents of the NigerCat area in Ekpan, Uvwie LGA are, by this regrettable act of negligence, sitting on a keg of gun powder. Those involved should take urgent steps to remedy the situation to prevent a disaster as a stitch in time saves nine.
Efforts to reach the management of the organisation proved abortive as at the time of filing in this report.