Lagos residents accuse filling station of polluting water, land

Some residents of Akoka, in the Ilaje, Bariga area of Lagos State, have raised the alarm over alleged contamination of their water and land by Total Filling Station, Akoka.

The affected communities are Abdullahi Street, Ayetoro Street and St. Finbarrs College Road.

INKLING gathered that the underground petrol storage tank of the filling station leaked sometime in August 2017.

The tank was said to have spilt its entire content, contaminating the soil and groundwater of the communities.

The residents claimed that the spillage affected their health and disrupted their business activities.

A resident of Abdullahi Street, Ifeamaka Umeike, said she had written letters to different regulatory bodies in the state without getting any response.

She noted that as a palliative measure, the filling station provided her family with an alternative source of water.

Umeike said she was, however, concerned about other affected residents.

She said, “The smell of petrol pervades the entire house once water is being pumped or a tap is turned on. From my knowledge of these matters, those that have been exposed are susceptible to cancer and renal failure. Even the children in this neighbourhood may pass on these abnormalities to their own children.

“After a series of complaints and letters to Total Filling Station, my house was provided with a tank into which the company supplied water weekly. The water they bring is neither clean nor sufficient, but we have been bearing it since last year.

“As a chemist and safety, risk and reliability engineer, I know very clearly what they are supposed to do. I have advised them to do it, but they ignored me. We have run to the regulatory bodies, which appear to have either been compromised or uninterested in getting Total to do what they must for the community.”

During a meeting on Saturday called by the affected residents, our correspondent noted that it was agreed that a letter should be sent to the government on the problem.

One Anyanwu, who claimed to have witnessed the pollution when it occurred in 2017, said he never realised its environmental impact then.

He said he later discovered that the well in his house had been polluted.

“I initially thought it was the overhead tank that was dirty. We kept washing it until when we heard that a gutter caught fire as a result of the petrol contamination. We have been buying water since then. As I speak to you, more houses are getting affected because the contamination is spreading,” he added

Another resident, Bridget Edet, said although she had stopped using water in the community, her health had been affected.

“It was after the gutter caught fire that we realised that it was an issue emanating from the fuel leakage. We need an immediate solution because this problem can have a ripple effect for generations to come,” she added.

A dry cleaner, Mr Ajayi Felix, said he had lost his business over the incident, alleging that the water bleached his customers’ clothes.

A lawyer representing the residents, Mrs Awana Longe, said the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, and the Department of Petroleum Resources had been contacted over the matter.

She, however, lamented that their responses had been slow.

She said, “All we want is that while the clean-up is ongoing, potable water should be provided for all affected houses. All affected pipes should be replaced and a medical evaluation should be done for everyone affected intermittently, at least for two years. It is a strange thing to put a filling station in the middle of a residential area in the first place. We call on the company to clean up its mess.”

The dealer of the Total Filling Station, Akoka, one Maruf, confirmed the leakage on Saturday.

He said, “The spillage occurred in August last year and since then, there has not been any other spillage. The case is already in court and it is only my lawyer that can speak to anybody.”

He said the lawyer would call our correspondent. However, the lawyer had yet to do so as of press time on Monday.

But the residents denied taking the matter to court.

The Public Relations Officer of LASEPA said only the General Manager of the agency, Antonio Ayodele, could respond to the case.

The spokesperson for the DPR, Paul Osu, was not available as of press time.

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