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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 January 2007

Nigeria letter

The Lagos oil pipeline tragedy was avoidable

IMMEDIATELY AFTER the devastating oil pipeline explosion on Boxing Day in Lagos, Nigeria, in which 265 mainly poor people were killed, the Democratic Socialist Movement, (DSM - the Socialist Party's counterpart in Nigeria) issued the following press statement.

FOR THE second time in a year in Lagos State and for the umpteenth time in the country as a whole, another fire has resulted from a burst fuel pipeline, claiming the lives and properties of many in the Lagos suburb of Abule-Egba.

What this disastrous incident has shown is how insensitive and uncaring this government is about the feelings and plight of the ordinary people. This is aside from exposing the unfulfilled promises of the government, usually made anytime disaster strikes, that it would put in place necessary mechanisms to stem the tide of pipeline fires.

From reports and eyewitness accounts, the relevant authorities, including the police and local government, were alerted to the fact that fuel was leaking from a damaged portion of this particular pipeline. They were also warned that danger loomed when the actual scooping of fuel began at the pipeline after two tankers (with supposed armed escorts) had loaded from the vandalised point.

While we in the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) do not approve of hazardous scooping of fuel under any guise, we wish to state that the high number of casualties from the 26 December fire reflects the desperate situation ordinary Nigerians found themselves in as a result of the recent inexplicable fuel scarcity.

In the busy commercial metropolis of Lagos, where a majority of the population rely on daily paid work, the fuel scarcity meant that many people had become desperate. Petrol remains an essential ingredient for transportation, especially in the absence of a modern mass rail system. Most homes and businesses rely on generators for power in the absence of stable electricity, despite the alleged billions of Naira that have been sunk into the electricity sector.

But this disaster has also exposed the lie of the government that privatising and liberalising the oil sector would lead to improved standards and services. If there is anything it has improved, it is greater profits for the government and its multinational backers. As has been the case in the aviation sector, privatisation has led to falling standards, a compromising of safety and a series of accidents.

Despite the fact that Nigeria remains the seventh largest world oil producer and has earned fabulous income from the international market, mainly as a result of the crisis in the Middle East, it continues to import refined oil for domestic consumption. Its four refineries are comatose [operating around only 40% of capacity or not at all] even though the Obasanjo government claimed to have spent about 700 million dollars on their so-called 'turn around maintenance'.

Again, despite several fire disasters that have resulted from burst pipelines, the government has been incapable of putting in place an effective pipeline monitoring technology that can allow the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to detect faults and repair them promptly.

We demand the following:

Segun Sango, general secretary, DSM

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In The Socialist 11 January 2007:

Sri Lankan government blamed for violent attack on ant-war rally organiers

Labour to savage NHS jobs

Union action can defend the NHS

Manchester NHS: "Making it better" means making it worse

Socialist Students

Students fight for free education

How to become a fees fighter

ISR and Socialist Students' conference - a political voice for young people

Socialist Party news and analysis

The war for oil profits

Murderous raid on anti-war meeting

Ruthless Ruth Kelly

Violence against women

Ipswich murders lift lid on violence against women

Socialist Party review

Pirates of the Caribbean

International socialist news and analysis

Ethiopia invasion throws Somalia further into crisis

The Lagos oil pipeline tragedy was avoidable

Northern Ireland: New governing executive looks in doubt

Socialist Party workplace news

Time for action on pensions!

Vote 'yes' in PCS ballot

Construction boom - workers organise

We want our buses back!

Public transport and private ownership don't mix


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