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Saturday, 27 October 2018

TENSION ESCALATES AS OGUDU COMMUNITY AND OWNERS OF NEW FILLING STATION SET FOR SHOWDOWN


There is a growing tension among the residents of Omotayo Banwo community in the Ogudu area of Lagos over the recent citing and rapid construction of a petrol filling station along the only popular road that links the community with the rest of the Lagos metropolis.

Trouble started weeks back when the owners of the petrol filling station were challenged by the community, to stop work but refused.

However a temporal stalemate has been achieved by the residents as there has been a temporal stop of work at the site, but the tension persists as the owners of the petrol filling station have not said they will pull out of the area.

Drawing up strength for their resistance against the location of the petrol filling station in the area, the General Secretary of the Ogudu Oruba community, Mr Gbenga Banwo and the Chairman Mr Segun Oduwole recalled a letter they wrote to the executive governor of Lagos State, and signed by both of them on behalf of the community.

"We wrote that petition, noting the improper citing of the petrol station along Omotayo Banwo street ogudu-kosofe local government area. We stated in there that, 

'our community development association noted with dismay a recent attempt by some individuals to erect and sandwich a petrol filling station on the above named street. We made a reference to our earlier letter MW1/01/REH0926/59 dated 25th August 2015 where our main emphasis was the position of Omotayo Banwo street as a link road between Ogudu and Alapere to link the bridge at ketu/owode onirin as an alternative road from Ikorodu to avoid the regular and incessant gridlock on ketu ojota road. We were delighted when His excellency responded by constructing the road with huge amount of money to ameliorate the suffering of the masses. We wrote an appreciation letter dated 22nd August and delivered to his office at 3.30pm.'

"But our anguish and anxiety at the moment is the sudden and clandestine emergence of petrol filling station on the very narrow road. Such if approved as filling station on the street will have multiple disastrous effects on the community and is an indirect way to sign a death warrant of the innocent community.”

"Out letter to the governor also went on to highlight that, the proposed station is less than a hundred meters to the main gas pipeline on Lagos-Oworonsoki express road, and that the regular traffic gridlock on Omotayo Banwo street from ketu/alapere will re-emerge on the road thereby rendering the huge amount expended on the road illogical and sheer waste of public funds/resources.

"So we are urging His Excellency that life is precious and we believe very strongly that he will use his position as the Chief security officer of Lagos state to save our lives and properties before some people pass death sentence to millions of our inhabitants. I recall that this same letter that was copied the Commissioners of works and infrastructure, new town development authority and that of physical planning.

In a related development, the Manna Prayer Mountain Ministry popularly known as Our Daily Manna, a worship center that occupies the properties in number 8 – 10 Omotato Banwo Street, Orioke, Ogudu, wrote a similar petition through their lawyers, Honesty Eguridu, Esq, to the Department of Petroleum Resources on the 4th of October 2018, and also to the General Manager/CEO of Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (Lasepa) against the owners of the new filling station stating: "We have noticed with absolute shock that some unknown persons are constructing a petrol station on an undeveloped land sharing common boundary with our church building. We consider this to be very hazardous and a total violation of all Rules, Regulations and Guidelines for approval and construction of a Petrol Station. We also consider this to be against common sense and a violation and absolute disregard of all safety and environmental standards!

“It is an elementary knowledge that petrol stations are highly hazardous and by nature combustible and a timed bomb hence by international best practice and standards citing or construction of petrol stations is highly regulated thus it cannot be indiscriminately constructed in a purely residential area such as Omotayo Banwo Street, Orioke, Ogudu Lagos. All health and safety measures and standards clearly forbids the construction of a petrol station close to a public building. The Manna Prayer Mountain Ministry building is a public place where hundreds and thousands of Nigerians gather weekly for worship activities and constructing a petrol station on a property adjacent to such a worship centre, is putting the lives of thousands of Nigerians at risk. We are also aware that the Act establishing the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) along with DPR regulations forbids the construction of a petrol station close to a canal."

The Prayer Mountain Ministry’s attorney also went ahead to write to the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development and other necessary stakeholders in government, to protest the emergence of the contentious petrol filling station in the area.

In its reply to the Prayer Mountain Ministry’s attorney dated 10th October 2018, the Director, Petroleum Resources, Mr. Wole Akinyosore noted that: “an investigation and site inspection were carried out to ascertain the veracity of the petition, and it was discovered that “the owner of the site cannot be reached, the site was rounded up and barricaded with blue corrugated aluminum sheet. As at the time of visitation, we cannot get direct access into the premises, however a peep through the aluminum sheet showed foundation excavation/piling work in place. Furthermore, we have no record of any document from any proponent or company representative pertaining to this project. However, the site is placed under ‘Stop work order’ and thereby sealed.

Meanwhile, all efforts to meet the owners of the said construction site proved abortive, as tension escalates by the day.

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