The Federal Government, yesterday, said it spends N60 billion yearly to repair vandalised pipelines. It also confirmed rupturing of over 1,161 points nationwide between January 2019 and September 2020.

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Meanwhile, vandals and other criminal gangs operating along System 2B axis stole about 307.994 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) valued at N41.049 billion, while System 2E lost 26 million litres of the product worth N3.468 billion to the economic saboteurs in 2019.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who was addressing a town hall meeting on protecting oil and gas infrastructure in Abuja, noted that some 200,000 barrels of oil are lost daily to the wanton vandalism of pipelines in the country.

He said apart from the impact on the nation’s earnings, there were also environmental problems posed by the nefarious activity, especially water, air and soil pollution.

The minister lamented that Nigeria has long suffered massive infrastructure deficit due to decades of neglect, population explosion and absence of maintenance culture.

Mohammed pointed out that the drastic drop in revenues and competing priorities notwithstanding, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has invested heavily in providing new infrastructure besides reconstructing and rehabilitating existing ones.

He stressed that protection of oil and gas infrastructure was key, considering that the fact that the destruction of these facilities has socio-economic and environmental implications.

The minister said with oil providing 80 per cent of Nigeria’s budgetary revenues and 95 per cent of foreign exchange earnings, one could only imagine the impact of the incessant bursting of oil pipelines on the economy. He reminded Nigerians on the centrality of public infrastructure to economic growth and national development.

“Therefore, the destruction of public infrastructure by some unpatriotic Nigerians calls for great concern and immediate action, hence our decision to organise this town hall meeting series to sensitise communities, especially those where infrastructure are located, to be conscious of the import of such and protect them, expose, arrest and prosecute all those who engage in vandalisation among others,” he stated.

In his remarks, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, said from January to December 2020, losses along System 2B amounted to 146.809 million litres of PMS valued at N22.487 billion, adding that some of the notable hotspot areas were Abagbo, Ikate, Akaraba, Ilashe, Imoren, Ijegun, Ikotun, Baruwa, Oke Odo, Warewa and Ilara.

He revealed that System 2E lost 0.237 million litres of petrol worth N36.3 million in 2020, stressing that from January to May, NNPC pipeline segments suffered 203 breaks, with System 2B having 80 rupturing and System 2E recording 114 incidents, amounting to a cumulative loss of 39 million litres and a monetary value of N5.973 billion.

Also, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, stated that the oil-rich area witnessed rising agitations in the recent past, adding that a research showed that about 16,000 young people between ages one and 15 die yearly due to pollution occasioned by pipeline vandalism.