Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The people of oil-bearing Kantu and Odidi communities in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State yesterday protested against frequent pipeline leakages, destruction and degradation of their environment by the operations of NEPL/NECONDE in their areas.
The placard-carrying protesters, comprising women and youths, stormed
the Odidi Flow Station in a peaceful protests to express their anger over alleged non-chalant attitude of the management of the firms, operators of OML 42, to their plights.
They gave the management of NEPL/NECONDE “a seven-day ultimatum within which to commence genuine implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) process and payment of the 3 percent of 2022 Operating Expenses as stipulated by the PIA with immediate effect.”
This, they said was “to enable the community resume implementation of developmental projects in the communities, failure of which may lead to the shutdown of operational activities in the entire OML42 in Delta State.”
The aggrieved protesters appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency save their lives “by directing Mr. Mele Kyari, the Group CEO of NNPC Limited; Muhammad Ali Zarah, MD NEPL, and Mr. Monday Okoro, MD, NECONDE Energy Limited to commence full replacement of the trans Forcados pipeline instead of the sectional repair works being planned by oil firms without recourse to its negative implications on communities and the environment, since sectional repair works will not stop further leakages.”
The protesters claimed that the leaking Trans Forcados pipeline which was
constructed in the early 1960s has outlived its life span long ago, leading to continuous pollution of their environment and destruction of their eco system, creating hardship for the locals.
Inscriptions on their placards included: ‘OML42 Communities protest against NPDC/NECONDE management over non-implementation of PIA’; ‘Replace Trans Forcados Pipeline (TFP) now to save our environment’; ‘Stop treating host community workers with less value’; ‘We demand scholarships, employment for host communities’; ‘Stop hijacking host communities contracts’, among others.
The Chairman of Kantu/OML 42 Communities Forum, Mr. Windfree Atemubaghan, and Chairman, Odidi Federated Communities, Prince Preye Okrikpa, noted with concern that “the aging Trans Forcados pipeline has been destroying our environment because it has expired and cannot withstand the pressure of crude oil transported through it.”
They also canvassed for the award of all community-based marine and other service contracts to indigenous contractors in line with the Nigeria Local Content Act “to develop their capacity and expertise so that they can contribute meaningfully to the operations of the oil industry, particularly in OML42 in Delta State.
“All community-based marine and other
service contracts are being awarded to top management staff of NEPL and NECONDE Energy Limited, using their cronies as community vendors, thereby depriving Indigenous contractors of patronage.”
While responding, the Site Superintendent of NECONDE, Mr. Ekene Onyenekwe, and the NPDC representative at the Flow Station, Mr. Ayodeji Ayinde, commended the host communities for their peaceful disposition, promising to take their grievances to the appropriate quarters and follow it up.