Some irate youths of Ijaw communities in Edo State on Wednesday halted work on the proposed trunk line project between Gbetiokin and Adagbarasa fields being undertaken by Elcrest Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited over the non-inclusion of their communities in the project. Workers, who were carrying out survey of the route where the proposed pipelines would pass, were chased away by the aggrieved youths.
A representative of the protesting youths, Andrew Adowei, described the action of the oil company as an affront to the people of the communities. He said aside the need to inform the people of the proposed survey, none of those carrying out the survey came from the communities that the pipeline passed through.
According to Adowei, “We, youths of Ijaw communities within OML (Oil Mining Lease) 40, have stopped a survey work for the preparation of a pipeline (trunk line) that will link the Gbetiokin oil field to Adagbarasa manifold. Our anger stems from the fact that we see the action of Elcrest as gross disrespect for these communities. Nobody has come to brief us about the ongoing survey within our own territory. This is an unusual practice by oil companies to just come into host communities without prior information of the scope of work, or what they are about doing.”
Adowei however recalled that some months back, the company had intimated the communities of their plan and even engaged a youth from one of the communities as Ijaw coordinator of the project.
“Prince Igbiriki Barakemiye, who is the Ijaw coordinator of this project, came down to the community to hint us about the scope of the job and even engaged some of our youths. But right now, it is just a different scenario we are seeing. They have dropped all the proposed plans they had unfolded to us months back. The trunk line project is being diverted from the initial arrangement, and many Ijaw communities that were first captured in the project in the first phase, have been removed.
“As we speak, nobody has come to tell us the true state of things – why the Ijaw communities were extricated from the pipeline project. We only woke up to see workers in our communities without any information or notice. What Elcrest is doing is a recipe for ethnic crisis because they seem to be working with a particular tribe by removing the Ijaw communities from the project. We want to therefore call on the state and federal governments to call the management of Elcrest to order before things start to degenerate within the Benin River,” he appealed.
Meanwhile, a representative of the company, Benson Masade, declined to speak on the matter when his reaction was sought.
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