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Oil Bunkering Fire: Rep. Uju-Chima renews call for artisanal refineries

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Rep. Kingsley Uju-Chima (APC – Imo) has renewed calls for the integration of artisanal refineries into the country’s refining regulations of the oil and gas industry.

Uju-Chima representing Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta, Oru Federal Constituency said the proposed artisanal refinery was a possible permanent solution to the menace associated with illegal oil bunkering.

The lawmaker made the call on Sunday following a visit to the site of Friday’s fire incident that killed over 100 people at an illegal bunkering site in his constituency.

He said: “It is a national disaster which has put the entire community, local government area and constituency into a mourning mood. No amount of words will compensate for the situation I have seen here today.

“We have had a lot of bills and motions at the National Assembly in the past and I have seen reason why we should take this more serious. I have seen reason why as Nigerians and people of oil producing areas, we should have collaborative efforts to curb this menace of oil bunkering.

“Sometime ago, I proposed artisanal refinery as a possible permanent solution to this menace.

“I know in the western world, they have grade A, grade B and grade C fuel, so if this illegal business could continue unabated despite security agents within this place, then we will try to see from the legislative sector whether we can have depots and artisanal refineries to put permanent stop to this menace,” he added.

He called for a round table discussion among oil companies, community and religious leaders, youths and other stakeholders on the way forward.

Uju-Chima, who also expressed worry that 48 hours after the incident, many unclaimed corpses still littered the area, called on the the state government to evacuate the corpses and as well fumigate the environment.

“We must as a matter of urgency evacuate these corpses, so that the people alive will not be affected by the health hazard these decomposing bodies poses..

“I am really pained and do not know why our people should be killed in this form because this is not our traditional means of livelihood. We have always survived through farming and fishing,” he added.

The lawmaker, who later addressed some women from the area, urged them to help reorientate the mindset of the youth against dependence on illegal oil bunkering.

“I know that with adequate empowerment and encouragement in genuine oil and gas businesses and MSMEs, no youth will want to live in the bush for survival,” he said.

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