By NBF News

Communities give Shell ultimatum on road project
By Akanimo Sampson
March 17, 2010 12:32AM
Protesters at the abandoned road project initiated by Shell. Photo: next

Some 3,000 protesters drawn from 13 oil-rich communities in Bayelsa State on Tuesday, took to the streets in a renewed opposition to the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas major, Shell, over an abandoned road construction project by the company.

The aggrieved community members have given the oil company 28 days to resume work on the 42km Otuegila-Nembe road or forget about their oil at the expiration of their ultimatum. The ultimatum will expire on April 13.

The protest, which began in Nembe at about 10am, ended in Yenagoa, the state's capital, with a visit to television stations to underscore the seriousness of the threat to ground Shell's activities in their areas.

No further development
The spokesperson for the protesting communities, Nengi James, said they have resolved to ensure that there will be no further development of oil and gas facilities in their areas at the expiration of their ultimatum.

The communities cut across Abua/Odual Local Government Area of Rivers State, Ogbia and Nembe Local Government Areas in Bayelsa.

The chairperson of the Otuegila-Nembe Road Project Forum, Damfebo Derri, a community chief, had said, 'we demand, peacefully but with resolute determination, that there should be no further development of oil and gas facilities on our territory unless and until the construction of the road actually begins. Our communities are tired of Shell's failed promises and corporate irresponsibility'.

The protesters say they will cripple all the exploration, production and transmission facilities in their communities, including the Natural Gas Plant, the EGGS I & II, the Gas Transmission System (GTS) to the NLNG Bonny plant and the Non-Associated Gas Wells Drilling Project.

One of the female protesters who gave her name simply as Timi, said, 'our people and communities are determined not to be taken for a ride by this multinational predator, known as Shell Petroleum Development Company.'

A youth who identified himself as Preye, said: 'Our kings, chiefs, elders, women, youths, professionals and elected representatives of Otuegila, Amorokeni, Amoroto, Emago, Akani, Oluasiri-Nembe, Idema, Okoroba, Agrisaba, Biokponga and Nembe Bassambiri communities in Ogbia and Nembe local government areas and Abua/Odual Local Government Area of Rivers state are all in unison with our resolve.'

Crude production
Mr. James claimed that the 13 communities contribute over 15 per cent to Nigeria's total crude production.

Shell oil facilities in the areas include, Kugbo-Oloibiri first crude oil pipeline, Associated Gas Gathering System (AGG), the Nembe-Bassambiri ( Santa Barbara ) flow station and oil fields, Odema Creek flow station and oil fields, Tora Manifold, Oluasiri 'Soku' Gas Plant and oilfield with the Eastern Gas Gathering Systems (EGGS) I & II.

Shell officials who sought anonymity said the company commissioned the engineering designs for the road, which were completed, adding that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the said abandoned road project was dully conducted by the company.

Tony Okonedo, a spokesperson for Shell, in Lagos, when contacted yesterday, said the Anglo-Dutch would not make any official comment on the matter until today.

Facilitate construction
In a seeming frantic bid to facilitate the construction of the road, the former governor of the state, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, in a revocation of rights of occupancy notice dated September 20, 2003 revoked the protesting communities' rights of occupancy in respect of all the land along the route of the abandoned road measuring some 178.45 hectares.

Shell had claimed the Imiringi-Nembe Road project would cost $100 million. 'This is our largest community road project which, when completed, will connect 12 major communities to Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital,' Shell had said.

'On the first phase, from Imiringi to Oloibiri, about 20 kilometers of road and eight kilometers of asphalt carriageway base preparation has been completed. The 60 metre concrete bridge at Otabagi has also reached 90 percent completion. Road design for the second phase, from Otuegila to Nembe, has been completed and a contract will be awarded in 2002.'