The dealer of Total Filling Station, Akoka branch, Aleem Maruf, has refuted allegations of abandoning residents of the Akoka area of Lagos State after a leakage occurred on the station premises in 2017.
He said less than a month after the incident, the fuel flow was stopped, adding that the damage on the environment had also been halted.
PUNCH Metro had reported on Tuesday that residents of the community raised the alarm over the contamination of their land and water due to petrol leakage from the station’s underground tank.
They said their business and health had been affected.
Maruf, during a chat with our correspondent on Wednesday, noted that the leakage occurred in August 2017.
He explained that immediately the leakage was discovered, government agencies were notified and precautionary measures were taken to reduce the environmental impact.
Water tanks were reportedly provided for the affected houses, while they were supplied clean water as palliatives.
He said water pipes, hoses and faucets in the community were replaced and agreement was reached for medical checks to be carried out on residents of the affected houses.
Maruf said, “When the incident happened in August 2017, I immediately went to the Bariga Police Station to notify them and request their help to remove those selling fries by the roadside. It was one of my six underground tanks that leaked its content and we immediately started a stratification process. I also alerted officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency and the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency for a damage evaluation of the environment. Before the end of August, the flow had been stopped.
“LASEMA went round to assess the extent of the pollution by taking soil samples in the environment and it was seen that just seven houses were affected, including my station and a mechanic village.
“However, I was told to provide an alternative source of water for the affected houses while the remediation process was ongoing, which I did by providing 5,000-litre tanks for the affected houses and provided water for them three times a week.”
He added that by May 2018, all the affected areas were free from pollution.
A stratification certificate of conformity, dated September 29, 2017, which showed that the leakage had been fixed, was sighted by our correspondent.
PUNCH Metro obtained copies of water analyses reports issued by Searchgate Laboratories Limited.
The reports, dated October 9, 2017, February 9, 2018 and June 11, 2018, showed that petrol had progressively evaporated from the water in the affected area.
In the minute of a meeting that had officials of LASEPA and the affected residents in attendance, our correspondent noted that it was agreed that medical evaluation should be conducted by a government hospital for residents of the affected houses.
New boreholes were also to be provided for the residents.
“Medical evaluation can be carried out as soon as the residents are ready; boreholes have been drilled in four of the five houses affected and the fifth one is due for completion as soon as possible. I have replaced the water pipes, hoses and faucets,” Maruf said.
He, however, added that he believed that some residents were trying to take opportunity of the incident to take money from him.
Reacting to the claim of one of the residents, Ifeamaka Umeike, that she was supplied dirty water, the Ogun State indigene said Umeike had claimed to be the landlady of her house, which he later discovered to be false.
“After I had provided her house with an alternate source of water, she said she could not come down to fetch water and I had to provide another tank for her upstairs, as well as a pumping machine and a steriliser. As if that was not enough, she requested that I changed her water pipes and washing machine, which I also did. I bought her a washing machine worth N250,000. I have the receipt.
“She went further to request a payoff of N5m and I told her that I could not do that since I had done all that the government agencies requested of me. That was when she asked other residents to start making demands from me,” the dealer added.
A community leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the filling station had cleared the mess.
“The boreholes have indeed been provided; medical evaluation will be carried out as soon as possible,” he added.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.