Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Rivers State Government and three major international oil companies have agreed to set up a 30-bed COVID-19 Treatment Centre in Bonny Local Government Area of the state.
The companies are the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas company (NLNG), the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), and The Exonn Mobil Producing Unlimited Company.
They agreed to upgrade and equip the Bonny General Hospital as a treatment centre for the coronavirus, adding that it would be ready in the next four weeks.
They reached the agreement recently in a meeting convened by Governor Nyesom Wike in Port Harcourt.
Wike, expressed delight over the decision by three international oil companies to collaborate in establishing the treatment centre.
The governor stated that the highest number of people testing positive are oil workers which accounted for 60 per cent of cases recorded so far.
He said the situation has vindicated his position on the need for oil companies to cooperate with the state government to fully implement the COVID-19 preventive protocol.
“Nobody is against anybody carrying out oil exploration activities. All I have always argued is that if you are bringing people from outside the state which is like an interstate movement, there is need for us to know so that we are able also to take precaution and make sure that they follow the protocol put in place by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“Nobody will want to stop oil exploration because that is the mainstay of the economy of this country. But people have to be alive before you can use the revenue.
“If you make the money from the oil sector and human beings are not there what will be the essence of making the whole money.
“Money is to be used to advance economic life but man’s well-being is more important.”
On the issue of denial pervading the community, the governor promised to engage the traditional institution and community development committees to enlighten their people on the reality of the pandemic.
Wike, however, said government might consider a possible lockdown of Bonny after due consultation with the Amanyanabo of Bonny.
On the Bonny-Bodo road project, Wike frowned upon lack of interest shown by the federal government in releasing its counterpart funding when NLNG are fulfilling their own part of the agreement.
He said such treatment of issues concerning the Niger Delta that sustains the country financially is unacceptable.
The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, said some results of samples collected in Bonny showed the presence of COVID-19, adding that lack of treatment and testing centre posed a serious threat.