Senator Kabiru Marafa, the Chairman, Senate Joint Committee on Downstream Petroleum and Police Affairs, has asked the Abia State Government to make the right of way around the pipelines in the state to be safer and better.
Marafa made the call on Friday when members of the Senate Joint Committee on Downstream Petroleum and Police Affairs paid Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State a courtesy visit in Umuahia.
The committee was in the state on a one-day working visit to conduct an on-the-spot assessment of the pipeline explosion site.
Marafa urged the state government to expedite action in ensuring that the right of way as it concerns the pipelines running through the state was treated as a matter of urgent attention.
According to him, addressing the issue of right of way as it concerns the pipelines that run through the state is an efficient way to avert disaster in the state.
He said: “We have grilled some members of the NNPC, especially the Nigerian Storage and Pipeline Company.
“I don’t want to preempt anything, but a lot of questions need to be answered by the authorities concerned.
“I think something needs to be done about the right of way.
“People building indiscriminately along the pathway of the pipeline, I think is something you need to take up.
“We will take it up and find out what the right of way is supposed to be.
“If people continue to build in the right of way, we will have ourselves to blame.”
Responding, Ikpeazu said the secrecy surrounding the pumping of petroleum products through the pipelines ought to be expunged.
He said: “Information concerning when the product is pumped should be made known so that the Police and Civil defence would be on ground and the community would be on alert.
“There should be a helicopter monitoring the pipeline from the point where the product originates to the point of discharge.
“It will make it easier if it is done this way.
“It seems to me that the motive of some of the people in the downstream sector of NNPC overrides the need for precaution and safety.”
The governor appealed to members of the National Assembly to lend their voices towards ensuring that the problem of pipeline explosion in the nation was checked from the source.