Asarama Pipeline Fire Caused by Equipment Failure, Say Community Sources

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Asarama Pipeline Fire Caused by Equipment Failure, Say Community Sources

CHIGOZIE AMADI

Community sources in Asarama, Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, have disclosed that the recent fire incident in the community was caused by equipment failure and not sabotage as being claimed in some quarters.

The fire outbreak was reported on the Trans National Pipeline (TNP) at Iyongorong Agbagilor in Agbaokwan Asarama.

Though no life was lost in the incident, sources said that aquatic life was destroyed and fishing activities of the predominantly riverine community was disrupted as the people were no longer able to carry out their fishing and other economic activities.

The fire was said to have happened on Saturday, May 11, 2024 after the strike of thunder and lightning that accompanied a heavy rain in the community that morning.

Speaking with our correspondent on the phone, the traditional ruler of  Atah Obolo -Agbaokwan Asarama Community, King A. J. Daniel-Erumumbuban, confirmed the fire incident, saying he suspected equipment failure for the cause of the outbreak.

The monarch stated: “From the view of the populace in that area, I think that incident happened by natural causes because by what I was told by the Community Development Committee (CDC) chairman of the place, who called me to report the incident, as well as other people. My surveillance crew also saw that the incident happened at about 11am on Saturday, May 11, 2024”.

He described the claim of sabotage by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) as hasty, saying there was no evidence to substantiate the claim without a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) by the critical stakeholders.

“We can only ascertain such claim if a joint investigation has been carried out, where the community, SPDC, Pipeline Infrastructure, all critical stakeholders will be there so that we can ascertain what is the remote cause.

“I suspect it to be an equipment failure, which coincided with the striking of thunder and lightning, which caused that incident, because if it is sabotage you will hear an explosion but in this case there was nothing like that. Immediately there was thunder and lightning, we experienced the bolt of fire from the direction of the impacted place.

“It happened by natural causes and I think it is an equipment failure. SPDC cannot lay claim to the incident that just occurred as a result of sabotage, until we are able to unravel the cause of the fire incident,” he added.

He further assured that the fire could not have been caused by sabotage in his kingdom because of the level of sensitisation in the community on the dangers of pipeline vandalism and oil bunkering.

Also speaking, a pipeline surveillance and community relations expert, Dr. Akpos Mezeh, agreed with the monarch that it was only a joint investigation by the relevant stakeholders that would determine the cause of the fire outbreak.

He also ruled out the likelihood of sabotage explaining that the impact of the fire on the pipeline pointed to an outside impact than what would have been the case if it was a case of sabotage.

He called for patience from all concerned until the joint investigation visit JIV was conducted and the cause of the fire was finally determined.

Mezeh expressed satisfaction that no life was lost adding that the fire had been put out and the pipeline shut down pending the joint investigation visit JIV and repairs.

He requested for assistance to the community in form of relief materials as the people’s main sources of livelihood have been disrupted by the fire.

“The depletion of aquatic life has been our worry. Like I told you earlier we are predominantly fishermen and women. During this time of inferno we were unable to carry out our fishing activities within that environment.

“These are the places we usually fish. Especially women who normally pick periwinkles. It happened around the creeks and mangroves where we pick periwinkles and other aquatic life, so fishing being our only source of livelihood the people are in serious suffering, the people are in serious pains.

“So we are calling on the federal government, we are calling on state government and every other critical stakeholders to come to our rescue. Give us relief materials so that this time we are not going out on our fishing business we will be able to take care of our family especially now that schools just opened so that we can send our children back to school.

“It has not been easy for us since this incident happened. So we need relief materials to be given to the people to cushion the effects of this fire incident”, the Royal Father pleaded.