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Vanguard: Bayelsa communities give Shell 30-day ultimatum

By  Samuel Oyadongha
Posted to the Web: Monday, August 20, 2007

Yenagoa—Fresh crisis looms in the coastal communities of Aleibiri and Angalawei-gbene in the Ekeremor local government area of Bayelsa State following a 30-day ultimatum given to the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) by the people to pay N40 million compensation for the three decades ecological damages unleashed on their environment failure of which they might be forced to send the company packing from the area.

The brewing tension in the western coastal enclave of the state is coming at a time the oil major is planning to resume operations in this turbulent area it was compelled to cease production in the wake of the recent upsurge in youth militancy.

Briefing newsmen in Yenagoa, a prominent indigene of the area, Dr. Awolowo Kurogha, who said the elders have been holding back the aggrieved community youths from going on rampage noted that the cause of the escalating tension in the area dates back to 1975 when an artificial canal was dug south of Aleibiri to Angalawei-gbene by SPDC following its discovery of oil in commercial quantity.

Dr. Kurogha noted with sadness that few years later, the company created additional lesser tributaries from the main artificial canal to Aleibiri and Angalawei-gbene communities, which has been a source of nightmare to the communities causing unprecedented flood devastation.

According to him, “the people of Aleibiri and Angalawei-gbene communities now live at the mercy of the actions of the rampaging flood that has consistently destroy agricultural facilities such as lakes, farmlands and ponds.”
 
Continuing he said, “Even the natural ecosystem is not spared as buildings, cultural artifacts among others have been completely ravaged by the surging volume of water resulting in the transportation of silts and other sedimentary agents to cover the natural state of fish ponds and lakes. Our agricultural produces are nothing to write home about while the economic life of our people has been brought to a standstill.
 
“As I speak to you, flood is ravaging everywhere in the two communities thereby making life miserable for our people.”
 
He said though the predicament of the communities had been reported to the National Assembly in the past with the latter directing SPDC to pay compensation for damages caused the communities, which the former managing director agreed to before his transfer.
 
Warning that the patience of the communities should not be misconstrue for weakness he called on the company to as a matter of urgency meet up their demand as delay could be dangerous.
 
“We shall not want SPDC to take us for a ride, let justice prevail. The damage it has caused in the area in the past three decades amount to N100billion. We wish to state unequivocally that we want SHELL to pay N40billion as compensation for the damages caused to our area in the past three decades for the untold hardship meted on us or we shall take necessary actions to deal with the situation after the expiration of this ultimatum,” he stated.

http://www.vanguardngr.com/articles/2002/niger_delta/nd220082007.html

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