Bayelsa deputy governor urges Etelebou Gas Field stakeholders on patience
By Aherhoke Okioma, Yenagoa
The Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has urged a group of oil and gas producing communities in Yenagoa Local Government Area known as Opolo and environs to be patient as government is addressing their differences with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
Senator Ewhrudjakpo made the call on Monday when he embarked on a special site inspection visit to some areas of the vast Etelebou Oil and Gas Fields in the Yenagoa LGA. The Deputy Governor explained that the visit was to enable government verify the claims made by the communities and SPDC over gas pipelines blocking natural canals and making life unbearable for people of the area.
Ewhrudjakpo said government, through the on-the-spot assessment, had identified the issues involved and was convinced that de-silting of the blocked canals would ensure free flow of water and also alleviate the suffering of the people. He, therefore, urged the SPDC team to without any further delay kickstart the process of awarding the de-silting contract and furnish his office with the timelines for commencement and completion of the project.
While calling for transparency and commitment on the part of SPDC, the Deputy Governor appealed to the host communities to remain calm and law-abiding. The Bayelsa number two man said the present administration was always available to mediate between the oil firms and their host communities, noting that government must promote peace and take burdens off the shoulders of its people.
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His words, “There has been a lot of contention. The issue is that the activity we did because of the gas gathering plant involving Etelebou, clearly has caused some blockages to the natural canals, which have deprived the communities access to their farmlands and other resources.
“Due to blockages, the host communities have been deprived of farming, fishing and other rights have been stifled. We have been able to identify the issues and we are convinced and indeed have agreed that de-silting will be the first thing to do.
“We want to appeal to the communities that they should remain calm while we take all the processes that are required to get the contract awarded and executed. We also need the support of the SPDC and the contractor to ensure that the de-silting takes place as agreed. It is in the best interest of all parties that it is done as agreed.
“As for the SPDC, I want them to be as transparent as possible. We want to achieve the milestone that we achieved with the Kolo Creek gas turbine issue. All of us must put our hands on deck to deliver on the project.”
In their separate remarks, the member representing Yenagoa Constituency 1 in the State House of Assembly, Hon. Oforji Oboku, and the spokesman of the host communities, Mr Jamabo Wozi, thanked the Deputy Governor for the visit, expressing hope that his efforts would bring about justice and succour to the impacted communities.
On his part, the Head of Asset Management and Integration, SPDC East, Mr Teifa Biotu, said the company was committed to working closely with the host communities to de-silt the blocked canals. He expressed appreciation to Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo for his tireless efforts at resolving the conflict amicably, promising that SPDC would work on the project timelines and make them available to the Deputy Governor as soon as possible.