Pipeline Infrastructure Nigeria Ltd (PINL) has joined forces with Inter Atlas and government se]curity agencies for a three-day community sensitization campaign across zones 3, 5, 6, and 8 under their pipeline surveillance contract with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).
Led by PINL’s Operations Manager, Femi Alake, and supported by Colonel Fidelis Ude overseeing the government security agencies, along with Michael, the Corridor Lead of Inter Atlas, the initiative deployed over 30 security and support vehicles. These vehicles traversed through communities in zones 3, 5, 6, and 8, employing public address systems to educate locals on the severe security and environmental implications of pipeline vandalism. Handbills were also distributed across strategic markets within these communities, advocating against oil theft and providing contact details for reporting offenders.
Communities like Rukpoku, Rumuji, Rumuekpe, Ibaa, Ikata, Owaza, Odogwa, and Egbema across Abia, Imo, and Rivers states were engaged during these sessions. The messages emphasized the detrimental impact of crude oil theft on the land while warning of strict legal consequences for offenders. Residents were encouraged to report any illicit activities, with promises of rewards for credible information.
However, amidst these efforts, discontent brewed among locals. At Umuololo Community in Owaza kingdom, Abia state, youths expressed frustration over government neglect despite the substantial oil resources extracted from their land. They demanded better infrastructure, employment opportunities, and essential amenities, highlighting the absence of basic facilities in their region.
A community chief, Chukwuemeka Chibundu, echoed these sentiments and emphasized the need for improved governmental relations with the communities to dissuade youth involvement in vandalism and oil theft.
He urged oil and security companies to educate their staff against participating in such illegal activities.
PINL’s Operations Director, Femi Alake, stressed that the exercise aimed to showcase a strong presence to deter nefarious activities along the pipelines, especially in the Eastern corridor.
Similarly, Charles from Inter Atlas reiterated the exercise’s purpose to reinforce their ground presence, understand community needs for development, and educate them on the detrimental effects of pipeline vandalism.
Despite these efforts, they emphasized the critical role of government intervention, specifically in prosecuting offenders.
They highlighted the trend of arrested individuals involved in oil theft being released without due prosecution, hindering security efforts and community cooperation.
They emphasized the importance of government action in dispensing justice to curb the rising trend of small-scale illegal refineries operated within communities.