The Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Mr Olukayode Popoola has scheduled an emergency stakeholders meeting to seek a solution to the hazard of gas lines in the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan Expressway reconstruction/rehabilitation project.
Popoola told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos that the meeting was important for all stakeholders to rub minds on how to avert danger on the Right of Way (RoW) on the project.
NAN reports that that there was panic on the highway on Wednesday as a gas pipe got ruptured during construction works by Julius Berger on a section of the highway.
A similar gas leak had occurred on section one of the highway in 2019 during construction activities which also made road users to panic.
Section one of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway rehabilitation/reconstruction project spans from Ojota in Lagos to Sagamu Interchange.
Popoola stressed that there was an accepted depth for pipes to be buried deep into the ground such that there should not be interactions between excavators and the pipes during construction works.
The federal controller harped on the need for the stakeholders to ascertain if due diligence was followed in laying the pipelines.
He explained that the Federal Ministry of Works had a tradition of interacting with service providers from the oil and gas, telecommunication, power and other industries to identify exact location of facilities before construction works.
He also noted that only the Minister for Works and Housing had the powers to grant approval on use of RoW for laying of pipes or any services after careful analysis.
Popoola explained that the minister usually liaises with the federal controllers of Works in states involved to crosscheck with engineers from its Planning and Development Departments to inspect the sites.
“The engineers will inspect and write their reports before the Honourable Minister will grant the approval. When it comes to execution like laying of the pipes, there is a minimum depth that pipes are supposed to be laid under.
“If all those technical things of minimum depths are observed, I am sure this problem we are having may not have occurred.
“Now you are saying maybe we are not working together with NNPC, ideally, they are the owners of the pipes, they are the custodian, they are supposed to tell us which alignment they have their pipes to guide us,’’ he said.
He explained that he only assumed office in 2020, and that the contractors were not aware of the existence of gas lines in its RoW, hence the incident of Wednesday.
“The contractors were not aware of the existence of gap pipes there. Now that they know, they will be more careful in working on that corridor, such things will not happen again,’’ he assured.
He said that errors on gas lines that ruptured would have been averted if site engineers were aware of the depth of the gas pipe on the alignment.
“Any time we want to do any construction, we will call a meeting of the stakeholders, to say please we want to do this or that.
“If you have either pipes for gas, either cables or water pipes and in recent times for internet, we also advise them, please come and remove your pipes or telecommunication.
“There was that kind of stakeholders meeting at the inception of this project which started in 2013. Things must have changed, we are talking of seven years ago, and probably these pipes were laid after that inception meeting.
“I was not there at that time and most of the people at NNPC were not there at that time too, but we will work together, it will not happen again.
Part of the measure is to discuss with them, we will invite them for a meeting, they are supposed to have done cathodic protection for the pipes to prevent fire,’’ he said.
He said that cathodic protection was like a casing of protection to prevent charging between the pipes and another external material that could cause fire.
“This is very urgent, so the meeting will come up any moment from now,’’ he said.
He lamented new settlement encroaching on Right of Way (RoW) of the project and stressed the need for state governments to liaise with federal agencies when granting building permit approvals.
He explained that section one of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway which spans from Ojota in Lagos to Sagamu Interchange was about 56 per cent completed.
He said that heavy vehicular volume was slowing down traffic diversion and construction works on the site.
He, however, commended traffic regulatory and law enforcement agencies who have worked tirelessly to make the site accessible for construction works to continue.