A terrible disaster in Nigeria has occurred because some blokes thought it might be worthwhile to tap (illegally) crude oil from pipelines of the state company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. The pipeline runs just under the surface of Inagbe Beach, a stretch of golden sand on one of many islands that dot the Atlantic coast around Lagos.
The consequences? 200 people were burnt to death when the tapped pipeline exploded.
The huge blast resulted in 100 blackened, unrecognisable corpses strewn across a beach. Everything within a 20-metre radius was incinerated, with only grey powdery skulls and bones remaining of the five people closest to the pipeline. The pipeline had been dug out of the sand and bore marks of drilling. Burned corpses were strewn on the water's edge a few metres away, where the golden sand was still steaming hot several hours after the explosion. Other bodies, charred and bloated, floated in the water.
Police estimate 150 to 200 people perished in the explosion.
The theft leading to the explosion is hardly surpising when the vast majority of people live in poverty. An official said:
"This is caused by hunger and greed. If you've got no job and you're hungry you take advantage of anything to feed your family. Anyone who takes this kind of risk is desperate."
Apparently it’s not the first time such a disaster had occurred. In 2002, a similar blast at a munitions dump kille d more than 1,000 people, while in 2000 in Jesse, in the southern state of Delta, a pipeline fire also caused by vandals killed about 1,000 people.
It's ironical that an oil-rich country like Nigeria suffers many still in abject poverty who are willing to resort to such desperate and dangerous measures. Life there is poor, thus life there is cheap.
We haven't reach that stage yet, but if we don't watch it, our corruption level may soon draw abreast of Nigerian standards.