Illegal settlements encroach on NPA facility
Calabar Port of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) may be sitting on gunpowder with palpable fears that the fuel fumes and wastages from the nearby tank farms may trigger an explosion at the port facility any moment.
The Guardian gathered that over 10 oil companies are operating the tank farms, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); Alkanes Petroleum and Gas; Knights Temples Limited; Hyde Tanks and Terminals; Linc Petroleum; Dozzy Oil and Gas; Hannah Energy Limited, among others.
This is even as the illegal encroachment on the facility by hoodlums in the neighbourhood becomes another source of worry.Already, the massive erosion and fuel wastage channeled towards the facility have brought down the perimeter fencing built by the NPA, thereby given way for free flow of fuel wastages into the ports facility.The management of NPA led by the Executive Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Idris Abubakar, during an inspection to the facility expressed dismay at the situation.
Abubakar, who was worried about the level of damages and the impending danger, said the management would immediately investigate the matter and get the appropriate authority to find a lasting solution to the problem.
The fuel wastage is directly affecting the operations terminal operators, which shared boundary with the tank farms, and has made it difficult for the company to execute any maintenance work on its facilities, particularly when it concerns welding.
The port operators said there was need for serious collaboration with all stakeholders to further conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the area and find a permanent solution to the impending crisis.Port Manager Calabar Port, (NPA), Mrs Olufunmilayo Olotu, enjoined the oil firms to desist from such dangerous act, and consider safety in their operations.
She said: “We have discovered that activities of the tank farm operators is posing threat to port operations. The whole place smells of fuel. We have found it difficult to trace the particular source because it has mixed with the air. We are appealing that subsequently if you want to do venting, you should have an Oil Water Separation Plant (OWSP) as well as Oil Gas Separation plant (OGS). This is gas, which is very volatile. Venting should not be done inside the port. They should take the LPG truck outside the port, because it is highly inflammable,”
She discouraged flushing into the channel because it could affects the vessels at berth, adding that the NPA would introduce some documentation soon that will make the oil firms seek approval before venting or flushing, and violation of the rules would attract strict sanctions.
However, Olotu berated the illegal fishing activities around the port and the fast growing of illegal communities who are encroaching on NPA land.She lamented that the hoodlums from the communities have pulled down a perimeter fence around Ecomarine Terminals and encroached into the terminals threatening the officials and robbing them of their belongings.
Olotu said the NPA had informed the State Government and Obong of Calabar about the development who had equally promised to relocate the affected settlements.Just as the tour was rounding off, a fire outbreak emerged at a facility within the port, belongings to African Cycle Pollution Management Limited.Although, the facility was quite far from the tank farms, properties worth millions of naira were razed down in the incident, which was caused by electrical faults.She said the fire incident at African Cycles has stressed the need to urgently prevent a reoccurrence, which may be more deadly if it happens around tank farms.