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A'IBOM GOVT SETS UP COMMITTEE TO TACKLE GAS COMPANY, HOST COMMUNITY FEUD

By NBF News
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The Akwa Ibom State government has constituted a 14-member technical committee to look into the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) submitted by Septa Energy Nigeria Ltd. (SENL) with regard to the construction of a 37.3km gas pipeline project in the state.

Daily Sun learnt that the MoU became necessary following agitations by some communities through which the pipeline passed, who were complaining of ecological disaster occasioned by the activities of the company.

Consequently, the company had to submit MoU to the committee which was constituted at the end of the stakeholders meeting and headed by the permanent secretary, Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources and three representatives from each of the four affected local government areas: Mbo, Udung Uko, Urue Offiong-Oruko and Esit Eket as well as two representatives from Septa Energy company.

Addressing the stakeholders during the meeting, the Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources, Mr. Enobong Uwah, stated that the essence of setting up the technical committee was to give space to the parties involved, which are government, Septa company and the pipeline project impacting communities to review the MoU draft properly before it would be signed by government.

Uwah explained that the essence of setting up the 15-member technical committee to review the template was to give room for amendment of the document submitted by the gas company to avoid any hitch in the process or future complaints from any of the parties, adding that the committee was expected to complete and submit the document in his office within one month. 'This MoU shall come into effect on the date of signing by the last party and shall subsist for at most one year or the entire duration of the construction phase of the gas pipeline project, whichever lasts longer. The document provides for 15 MoU implementation committee members, courtesies and homage, obligations of parties, among others.

According to the company, the MoU would cover all Septa's pipeline laying/construction activities within the pipeline project affected communities from Edo in Esit Eket to Usung in Udung Uko local government areas,' he stressed. According to the commissioner, the gas project which happened to be the second Septa Energy would be undertaking in the state would include activities such as survey of the pipeline route, environmental impact assessment, soil test, site preparation and construction, construction of access roads, installation of cathode protection and construction of gas receiving facilities, among others.

He, however, appealed to youths from the affected areas to give the company the maximum co-operation it required to excel in its operations and to avoid any unnecessary disturbance that could scare away private investors from the state, saying, 'using peaceful means to seek a redress over a grievance usually comes out more rewarding.' The representative of Septa Energy and Community Relations Manager, Mr. Joseph Ekpelegho expressed appreciation to the state government for putting in place a platform for the stakeholders to rub minds on the way forward.

He explained that by the MoU Septa Energy was seeking social permit from the pipeline project impacted communities and for good working relationship while their operation in the areas lasted.