By ONYEKACHUKWU MELUWA, Warri
Youth from Odidi/Kantu and Diebiri- Batan communities in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State have shut down the Odidi and Batan oil flow stations, so making the nation lose about 44,000 barrels of crude oil daily from the flow stations.
The flow stations shut down last Saturday evening had remained so as at yesterday with the youths insisting that they will only resume operations after the operator Neconde Energy limited had cleared all bills owed the host communities.
In Odidi community, protesting women decked in black attire marched in the heavy rain on Saturday , chanting Ijaw songs demanding for justice. Some of the placards they carried read, “ We want NPDC to manage our flow station”, “ Pay us our money”, “Our community is underdeveloped, no gain from our flow station”, and so on.
While the women were chanting their songs in front of a platform guarded by military men in the area some leaders of the community went into a meeting with the military men.
When the meeting was dragging on for too long the women stormed the venue, shouting “attack’ and the same time asking their leaders to leave the military men alone.
Mr Godwin Akorie, Public relations officer, Odidi community and Mr Beke Timinimi, Public relations officer of Kantu community who later came to address newsmen after the meeting with the military men said, “we went to inform the military men of the intention of the communities to shut down the flow station over alleged failure of the operator to keep its promises to the area
“We met with the military men to inform them of our intention to off the flare. We came to make them understand our plights. This issue has gone to the state governor, no avail.
“All the agreements reached with the company, promises made by the company nothing has been met.
Now the military men said, “we should give them one week. If by one week the company fails to meet our demands it may result to self help”, Godwin said.
Public relations officer of Kantu community , Timinimi, also reechoed the outcome of the meeting with the military men.
At Diebiri Batan community , the PRO, Mr Peter Dio decried the alleged failure of Neconde to clear its debt to the community, adding that the Batan flow station would also remain shut until the debts were cleared.
Among other things, the communities alleged that workers, indigenous contractors had not been paid for over a year, adding that the company had also failed to honour agreements reached at various peace meetings including one brokered by the state government. They said they had written several open letters to President Muhammadu Buhari on their plight with no result
No staff of the company could be reached for comment. Meantime the company had in a newspaper advertorial responding to allegations from the host communities recently among other things said it had continued to carry the communities along in its operations, stressing that it recognised it’s host communities as “critical stakeholders in the JV and we have implemented a deliberate and consistent policy of economic empowerment for community entrepreneurs that has led to the award of several contracts to members of our community. Community related contracts for various services within the asset currently stand at N604 million monthly and N7.3 billion annually”.
The company said it awarded electrification of the communities to host community contractors .