By Solomon Asowata
The Lagos State Government on Wednesday said it was desirous of achieving a win-win solution to the dispute between petroleum depots and tank farm operators and residents of of Ijegun-Egba and Kirikiri areas.
The government acknowledged that the tank farm owners had made over N450 billion investments in the facilities.
It, however, said the depots must operate with the highest safety standards to protect lives and property of the people in their host communities.
Mr Idris Salako, Lagos State Commissioner for Planning and Urban Development and his Energy and Mineral Resources counterpart, Mr Olalere Odusote, spoke for the government at a stakeholders’ engagement to resolve the lingering dispute.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the meeting was organised by the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Relocation of Tank Farms from Residential Areas.
Salako noted that Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu had received several complaints from the communities regarding the operations of the tank farms within the residential areas.
He said the former administration of Gov. Babatunde Fashola had, about eight years ago, banned the issuance of construction permits for setting up of petroleum depots due to its proliferation.
According to him, since the tank farms are already in operation, the current government has therefore directed the owners to regularise all their documents and prerequisite permits to enable them continue their operations.
“The governor has directed that we develop a development master plan for these communities.
“We are also to constantly engage with the residents, the depot owners and other stakeholders.
“We believe that they can manage the situation so long as the depots operate with the highest safety standards and carry out Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities in the host communities.”
Also, Odusote said the government had approved plans to build two fire service stations in the area and construct some strategic roads to ease the pain of residents.
He said the government would construct one of the fire stations while the other one would be financed by the tank farm owners for emergency response purposes.
Mr Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said the depots were critical to the supply chain of the nation’s petroleum products.
Kyari, represented by Mr Jonathan Madumere, Manager Storage, NNPC, said the corporation would continue to ensure that they comply with all safety protocols that would enable them operate in the localities.
On his part, Mr Adebowale Olujimi, Chairman, Ijegun-Egba Tank Farm Operators Association, commended the state government and the lawmakers for intervening in the dispute with the residents.
Olujimi said the depots had not only employed over 3, 000 workers, including those from their host communities, but had also been doing various CSR programmes.
In his submission, the committee Chairman, Rep. Sergius Ogun (PDP-Edo), said after visiting 17 of the tank farms and interfacing with stakeholders, he believed it was possible for the depots and the residents to coexist side by side.
Ogun said: “This committee was inaugurated by the Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila to look into the petitions from the residents on the activities of the tank farms and its effects on their lives.
“As a Parliament, it is our responsibility to make sure that lives are preserved while also protecting the investments of businesses that contribute to the economy.
“The relocation of the tank farms will disrupt the petroleum supply chain and we believe that there should be no need for that as long as they comply with the safety protocols outlined by the relevant agencies and governments.”(NAN)