The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to direct the Ecological Fund Office to embark on erosion control in Umunwanwa community of Abia State, to avert a possible pipeline explosion.
The lawmakers unanimously took this decision on Tuesday after adopting a motion by Sam Onuigbo (PDP-Abia) at the plenary.
Moving the motion, Mr Onuigbo said that Umunwanwa, a town in Umuahia South Local Government Area of Abia, has the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) pipeline passing through it.
He said the town has been devasted by severe erosion and that the destructive effect of erosion is threatening lives, property, and economic activities in the area.
According to him, ”the danger is that the PPMC pipeline that passes through Umunwanwa has been precariously exposed by the erosion, leaving it open to an explosion at the slightest impact”.
“The ugly petroleum pipeline explosion that resulted in the deaths of about 250 people in Osisioma, in Osisioma Local Government Area of Abia in 2018, was reported to have exhibited similar dangerous signals.
“They were brought to the attention of the Federal Government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) and its subsidiary, the PPMC, but such warning alerts and several calls to act and prevent the deadly incident that happened were ignored or neglected.
“A few months after I brought this issue before this house on October 23rd, 2018, there was a pipeline explosion at Kom Kom, in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State, which claimed scores of lives on June 22nd, 2019, thus pointing to the persistent dangers of pipeline explosions to Nigerian citizens.”
He said similar alerts that had been given to the Federal Government and its agencies such as the NNPC to carry out its responsibilities in order to prevent the occurrences of the tragedies of Osisioma, Oyigbo, among others, ”have always fallen on deaf ears”.
“Umunwanwa is sitting on a literal keg of gun powder and except the Federal Government immediately takes measures to defuse this, there is a looming mass death of those Nigerian citizens,” he said.
He said section 14 (2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) states that the primary reason a government exists is for the protection of lives, property and the welfare of its citizens.
Mr Onuigbo said that it was time to move away ”from the ritual of disasters foretold, to a ritual of disasters prevented because every Nigerian life matters”.
The house called on all relevant government agencies to take immediate measures to prevent any calamity.
Speaking on the motion, Speaker of the house, Femi Gbajabiamila, mandated the committees on climate change, environment, and petroleum downstream to visit the erosion sites in Umunwanwa.
He charged the committees to make recommendations to the house within four weeks on measures to be adopted to ensure a permanent solution to the erosion problems.
He said that the committees should proffer a permanent solution to the exposure of the pipelines to address the threat to lives, properties, and economic activities in the area.
Meanwhile, the lawmakers also called on the Federal Government to order an immediate investigation into the fire incident which occurred in Onitsha market on October 16.
The lawmakers took the decision while unanimously adopting a motion of urgent matters of public importance by Christopher Ezenwankwo (PDP-Anambra) at the plenary on Tuesday.
The motion was co-sponsored by Lynda Ikpeazu and Rep. Valentine Ogbonna both of Anambra.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported the death of a mother and her child from the oil tanker fire incident.
Moving the motion, Mr Ezenwankwo recalled that on Wednesday October 16, 2019, a tanker loaded with petrol fell in Onitsha and ignited fire outbreak.
According to him, the fire outbreak started from the MCC axis of Onitsha, to Upper lweka and spread to lweka Road, Ochanja Market and the neighbouring residential houses.
The lawmaker said that the fire incident could not be contained by the Federal Fire Service ”and that the fire continued until Thursday, the next day”.
Mr Ezenwankwo said that the fire incident claimed the lives of at least six persons and left many injured.
“Over 30 vehicles, over, 50 houses, some with warehouses and street shops and over 500 market lockup shops were razed by the fire incident,” he said.
He said that the incident has rendered over 2,000 hardworking people homeless, jobless and had robbed them of their means of livelihood.
The lawmaker said that on Friday, October 18, another tanker loaded with PMS fell at the Enugu-Onitsha expressway and ignited another fire outbreak, though no lives were lost.
According to the lawmaker, after the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) rapid assessment of the incident, ”no feasible steps have been taken to ameliorate the hardship caused to the victims of this fire outbreak”.
Mr Ezenwankwo said that if the immediate and remote causes of the fire incidents are not determined, a proper measure to forestall future fire outbreak might not be guaranteed
The house called on the Federal Government to establish a Federal Fire Service Station in Onitsha.
The lawmakers also called on NEMA to send relief materials to the victims of the Onitsha market fIre incident.
In his ruling, the Speaker of the house, Femi Gbajabiamila mandated the house committee on emergency and disaster preparedness to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the incident.
The speaker mandated the committee to report back to the house within four weeks for further legislative actions.
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