Explosion Claims Lives at Rivers Illegal Refinery — Second Time in One Year
An explosion has taken lives at an illegal refinery in Ibaa community, Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State, and residents have linked it to unemployment in the area.
Residents said the prevalence of illegal oil refineries in the area was due to unemployment, economic hardship and poverty.
The October 1 explosion was the second of its kind in the local government area this year, and it resulted in the death of over 30 residents. In March, an explosion occurred in Emuoha along a pipeline targeted by illegal refinery operators, killing at least 12 people.
THE PRESS gathered that the recent incident happened when a container used for refining crude oil caught fire on Sunday night.
THE PRESS spoke with Bright Ezebunwor, a movie producer and resident, who urged the government to provide job opportunities for the youth.
According to Ezebunwor, those who engage in the illegal business do so because of a lack of job opportunities in the country.
“The owner of the oil business is injured, and his son, a graduate, died as a result of the fire incident. Over 50 people died. Some are still dying and many are injured too,” he said.
“Many compounds in the Ibaa community have lost the children, mothers, fathers, etc. For now, people are crying for their dead ones. Everybody is in pain.
“I’m not supporting the illegal business going on, but unemployment, poverty and economic hardship are part of the factors responsible for it.
“I perfectly know that the illegal business cannot stop, but the government can do something about it.”
Videos seen by THE PRESS show the explosion site covered with soot and ashes. There were burnt and unrecognisable bodies of residents scattered around, with people moving the bodies away from the site.
In response to a post regarding the tragic incident on the Facebook page of Wazobia FM Port Harcourt, many residents shared similar sentiments with Ezebunwor.
While some cited poverty and a lack of job opportunities, others believed that greed often push people into the illegal business.
“My own is for the government to try and work on our refinery. People are suffering to eat food. Everything is [expensive]. There is no money. [The government should] try to create jobs for the youth. Most of those people who do this illegal business are those who have finished from school but have no job,” wrote Gift Godfrey.
On the part of Chilee Edwin, “This issue of illegal oil refining stems from greed from unpatriotic criminals. And we must learn to condemn evil because these kind of things never happened in the 80s and 90s, but today everyone wants to get rich by all means possible.”
“What makes illegal oil refinery to still be in existence is because of hunger and hardship in our country since APC governemnt took over from PDP. The government should create jobs for the youths, so the criminality can reduce,” said Santos Udoekpo.
Just like the others, Kehinde Akinrodoye said, “When there is a lack of jobs in the country, high cost of living, bad leaders, and you want illegal businesses to stop, how will this be possible? If illegal businesses stop, what will youths do to earn their living?”
Daz Gideon Timz, another resident, also noted that Nigerians refine oil illegally because of joblessness.
Also responding to the post, Pastor Anthony Nzorzor from Rivers State averred that the illegal oil refinery cannot stop because there’s no job available in the country.
“Every day, things are increasing. So the government [should] provide job opportunities for the youth in order to stop these illegal oil refineries,” Pastor Nzorzor added.
Echeonwu Perfect’s comment read, “Rivers state dey vex me. No job. Even the one we applied for did not give us the job. What do you expect the youth to do?”
“This is the results of a failed government and leaders. The three levels of government should be ashamed of themselves,” wrote Bangin Goodboy.