By Kunle Adedoyin
The Department of Petroleum Resources has suspended further loading of fuel from depots and tank farms in Satellite Town and Ijegun Egba with a view to addressing some environmental issues in the communities.
Dr Aken Musa, the Assistant Director, Downstream, DPR, made the disclosure on Monday during a protest by members of the Satellite Town Forum against the alleged degradation of their environment by oil merchants.
Musa said the DPR placed high premium on the health of Nigerians, noting that it would not support activities that would impinge on the life of any Nigerian.
“At the Department of Petroleum Resources, we respect the sanctity of lives, which is the overriding public interest, especially as it has to do with the health of the people, who are living in these communities. We shall take the issue of the environment into consideration,” Musa said.
“As we just finished from the meeting with the stakeholders, we have suspended further loading of petroleum products. But for the few trucks that have already been loaded, they will be allowed to leave so that they won’t constitute another hazard.
“As we speak, there is no truck that is going to load from those depots in Ijegun and Satellite Town any longer.”
Musa said the DPR will address the drainage problem and ensure that the Environmental Impact Assessment process for the location of tank farms passes the minimum requirements of the law.
He added that the department had stopped further expansion of depots and those yet to get approval.
“It is the duty of the DPR to make sure that the government is also informed of further developments and for those depot owners who do not have approval to stop forthwith.
“In terms of amelioration, we are going to undertake additional visits to the areas and take note of the discussions we had with the stakeholders to see how other options for the road networks that have been earmarked to be undertaken are going to be done.
“With the free passage of human and animals on the roads, we will ensure that economic activities are back in the areas once again.”
The protesters had carried placards with inscriptions such as: ‘Save Satellite Town, Lagos, relocate tank farms’; ‘No to tank farms’; ‘Satellite Town is dead’; ‘Save us from tank farms; and ‘Residents are humans, save us now’, among others.
Governor Iminiti, the Chairman of the Satellite Town Forum, said life in the communities had become uncertain, adding that the presence of many trucks was threatening the residents’ existence.
He noted that roads in Satellite Town were the worst in the country, adding that two trucks fell on October 22 and 24, and caused gridlock that made all the residents to stay at home.
Iminiti added that the second truck fell in front of the Satellite Town Secondary School during the school hours.
“The entire residents of Satellite Town live in fear; anything can happen. The trucks move in hundreds and if there is any fire outbreak, that will be the end of Satellite Town as a whole,” Iminiti said.
“One thing that worries us is the approval of the tank farms by the DPR in a well-built and densely populated residential area. This does not mean we are contesting your power of approval.
“The Marwa Road is a seven-metre thoroughfare and each of the truck is about 2.45 metres; two trucks at the same time usually cover the road.”
He said once the trucks block the road, the gridlock is such that children will not be able to go to schools and workers cannot go to work as there will be no exit or entry.