Residents of Adalemo in Ota, Ogun State, have cried out to the Federal Government and health authorities in the state to save them from an impending catastrophe. They are claiming that the gas pipeline in the community has now turned to a massive dumpsite.
The community has raised the alarm that the gas pipeline route along Kalejaiye Street, under the Adalemo Ajumose Community Development Authority (CDA), has now turned to a massive illegal dumpsite with indiscriminate burning of the refuse going on every day.
They claim that the situation was like sitting on a keg of gunpowder, which could explode any time. They noted with concern that the development might trigger an explosion and fire from the Shell gas pipeline, with the attendant impact on life, health and environment.
The community noted that the incessant dumping and burning of refuse has been on for over a decade but has assumed a greater dimension in recent times.
The community recently wrote a letter to the Ogun State Ministry of Environment, Abeokuta, recalling that it had earlier drawn the attention of the authorities to the problem without any response. Copies of the letter were sent to the state governor, deputy governor, the General Manager, Ogun State Environmental Protection Agency, Chairman Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government and Shell Nigeria Gas Limited.
The letter signed by Mr. Moses Madojutimi, Chairman of Ajumose Community, said the community had for long expressed concern on the issue of the major road that passes through the community and the problem of the open dumpsite along the road.
He said another letter was written in 2015 requesting the rehabilitation or reconstruction of Chicken Joe-Kalejaiye Road at Ajumose, Madojutimi and Bolorunduro in Sango-Ota, Ogun State. He said the community, through the letter, warned of an eminent chaos, noting that the situation had become worse.
The chairman told the reporter that the buried pipes were meant to be insulated and shielded from ultra violet rays, debris, electrical storms, rain and so on. He explained that the pipes were buried so that they would be less vulnerable to accidental damage, and inaccessible to vandals, saboteurs and even terrorists.
“But what we are now having at Kalejaiye Street, Madojutimi Area, Adalemo, Sango-Ota of Ogun State is a public sabotage which is now a major nuisance, due to the likelihood of explosion and fire, safety risk to lives, property and the environment,” he said.
He recalled that Nigerians read about the Ufa train disaster that occurred on June 4, 1989, in which there was a serious explosion caused from sparks from two passing trains. That, he noted, detonated gas leaking from a LPG pipeline near Ufa, in Russia that killed about 575 people.
Similarly, the community leader said there had been some cases of petroleum pipeline explosions in some communities in Nigeria in the past in which several casualties were recorded.
He said: “But unfortunately, a hazardous situation had begun to build up around a Shell Nigeria Gas pipeline in our community in Sango-Ota. There is a heap of refuse on the pipeline route, which is being burnt daily. This can lead to the rupture of the gas pipeline, explosion and fire hazard at any moment from now unless the company and the government take an urgent measure.
“The corridor of the pipeline used to be waterlogged during the rainy seasons, with the likelihood of internal corrosion of the pipes in the area. Also, the daily burning of the heap of refuse can contribute to another gas pipeline explosion if an urgent measure is not taken.”
Madojutimi said the heap of refuse at the site was not only generated from the community but majorly from Sango Garage Market area before the installation of the previous administration of ex-governor, Ibikunle Amosun, who later started the collection of refuse along the highway.
He said there was also refuse from Sango community, particularly Araromi area, along Idiroko Road as well as refuse that was brought to the site by cart pushers. He stated that over the years, there was no effective surveillance on the part of Shell Nigeria Gas, the local government and the state government to curtail the menace in the area.
“The refuse had already obstructed the use of the road and rendered it impassable for vehicular movement, while the drainage constructed along the location by the state government is not even effective for its purpose,” he said.
He said the residents are appealing to the Ogun State Government to protect the health and lives of people in the area as well as the environment.
He admitted that the collection, transport and final disposal of waste should be the responsibility of the generator. But he noted that in a situation where no specific person could be held liable, Shell Nigeria Gas should be made liable for the cleanup, remediation and restoration of the area, in conjunction with the state government.
He added that Shell must also ensure the surveillance, monitoring and enforcement of the area in conjunction with the adjoining communities and the local government to ensure that the place was not turned to a menace again.
He stated further: “In the past, we have seen dead bodies that were dumped on the refuse site and often daily, we experience burning of plastics, rubber and other materials that produce dioxin and other dangerous toxics in the air, soil and groundwater which is dangerous to the community.
He expressed concern that dioxin could affect the reproductive endocrine and immune system, and could cause cancer.
“The place is now a major public concern, with potential threat to the health and safety of lives. It is a burden for the adjoining communities and urgent corrective action and intervention of the state government is needed.
“The community is dedicated to dealing with pollution, and always strives to protect the environment. But the refuse heap is beyond what we can address,” he said.
He also called on the government to ensure that the landed property, which has been abandoned over the years, be put into positive use by the landowner – the family of the late G.O.K. Ajayi. Otherwise, he said, the land should be forfeited to the state government. He also pleaded with the government to reconstruct the road which he said is a major route in the town as soon as possible.
A resident, Tajudeen Arinde, who has mechanic workshop around the area, said residents in the community live with trepidation everyday.
“I must confess, everyday as I wake up in the morning and remember that I have to go to work, I am afraid of what could happen. We are indeed sitting on a time bomb which can trigger off anytime. I pray every day that God should preserve our lives.
“The unfortunate thing is that, everyday we hear cases of gas explosion, and that means that we are also highly vulnerable if nothing is done to forestall such evil incidence,” he said.
He stated that Shell as an organisation was supposed to have closer monitoring of all its facilities and ensure that they are not manipulated or abused whereby they become threats to life as now being experienced by the community.
Arinde lamented that the local government in the area that was supposed to protect the people and ensure a healthy environment has equally failed in its responsibility.
“It is hard to believe that there is a presence of government here, as there is indiscriminate dumping and burning of refuse going on every day with no caution from the government,” he noted.
While expressing her fear on the fate of children living in the community, Mrs. Adebola Ayeni, a mother of three, said the odour emanating from the refuse poses a health risk, not only to the children but also to the adults.
“In the past, we have woken up and saw dead bodies dumped at the refuse site and you can imagine the odour that will be coming out from such dead bodies. On a daily basis, plastics, rubber and other materials that transmit dangerous toxics in the air, soil and groundwater are burnt and this is dangerous to our health,” she said.