Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday met with the leadership of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to discuss measures being taken towards alleviating hardship faced by Ijegun residents over the activities of cluster oil depots in the area.
The meeting, held at the Lagos House in Marina, was aimed at bringing lasting relief to residents living around the vulnerable areas hosting oil tank farms and depots belonging to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The Thursday discussion was a follow-up to an informal meeting between the State Government and the DPR leadership, following bitter agitations by Ijegun residents whose livelihoods were affected perennial traffic gridlock resulting from the operations of the oil tank farms.
The Governor said the need to assuage the hardship faced by agitated residents led to the move to spearhead a joint action by the State Government, DPR and operators of the oil tank farms, which must focus on bringing about lasting relief in the area.
Sanwo-Olu said meetings would not be enough assurance to convince the Ijegun residents on the planned efforts to bring succour to the area; the Governor said the State Government and DPR leadership needed to prevent more agitation by physically visiting and meeting the residents to make definitive commitment.
He said: “It is important for us to organise a meeting between us and the tank farm owners to bring out a cohesive plan that would comprehensively address the issues. We should be able to have a walk-through permanent solution that would be sustainable.
“We also need to fix a date and time for a visit to the place and meet the people. Before then, we must have discussed the measures we are bringing up, so that we can make definitive statement and residents can begin to feel the relief they have been expecting.”
The Governor praised the DPR for responding to the concerns raised by the State Government in response to the residents’ agitation, noting that the collaboration between Lagos and the agency was in the interest of the people.
DPR Acting Director, Mr. Ahmad Shakur, said the agency had addressed some of the issues leading to the residents’ agitations, but added that other measures being taken required the support of the Lagos Government.
After the first meeting with the Governor, Shakur said DPR met with the owners of the tank farms and came up with recommendations aimed at addressing the situation at Ijegun.
He said: “In the course of analysing the issues causing the agitations, we discovered that the residents are concerned about two key problems. One is the deplorable state of roads in the area close to the tank farms. The residents complained that if they don’t get out of their house by 4am, most of them would not get to their places of work on time. And they also rush back home by 5pm to escape the gridlock occasioned by movement of oil tankers.
“The traffic gridlock, especially on Marwa Road is horrendous. What DPR did was to invite the depot owners to take up some responsibilities to improve their community relationship. The tank farms’ owners coughed out about N1 billion to award a contract leading to the depot from Marwa Road. They also constructed drainage to drain water from the Depot Road to the lagoon.”
Shakur said the residents demanded for more actions, including building a hospital that could treat accident and burns. The agency, he said, believed further engagement with residents should involve the State Government for greater impacts and also to build confidence around the plans taken by the owners of the tank farms.