Bayelsa communities laud Chevron relief efforts

Samuel Oyadongha

30 January 2012, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa – Community leaders in Bayelsa State under the auspices of the NNPC/Chevron’s Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) have lauded the efforts of the company in providing relief materials tagged “thank you” gift items to the people in appreciation of their assistance during the unfortunate gas rig fire incident that occurred offshore.

Trucks load of rice, garri, beans and tubers of yam, were yesterday being loaded in mammy boats for onward transporation to the communities on the Atlantic fringe at the Yenagoa Government jetty.

Others include cows, several jerry-cans (25 litres) of groundnut oil, palm oil, frozen fish/chicken, cartons of beverages, cartons of tin tomatoes, bags of salt, and sugar worth several millions of naira have been dispatched to communities.

The Chairmen of “Keffes and Dodo River Regional Development Committees under the GMOU, Messrs Christopher Tuodor and Berry Negresse made the commendation in Yenagoa during the inspection and receipt of food items provided by the company for the communities.

According to them, the gesture by the NNPC/Chevron Joint Venture was indicative of the company’s social responsibility and sensitivity to the needs of the people.

The provision of the relief materials they said would go a long way to further strengthen the cordial relationship the company and the communities.

“Over the years, our communities and NNPC/Chevron have had mutually-beneficial relationship. It is unfortunate that a fire incident occurred on the offshore rig undertaking gas drilling operations for the company. Our people were naturally agitated due to fear of potential threat to human and aquatic lives,” they said.

Stressing that the communities’ occupation was predominantly fishing, they noted that the concern for potential loss of means of livelihood was also paramount.

“We are mostly fishermen and women but we know that what happened was an accident, and because we are good neighbours with NNPC/Chevron, our people volunteered to assist in the rescue and evacuation of the workers on the rig as at the time of the incident,” they stated.

The RDC Chairmen thanked the NNPC/Chevron Joint Venture for showing appreciation of the people’s efforts in assisting the company when it needed support and said they would continue to assist in monitoring the situations until the fire is finally off.

Meanwhile the government jetty in Yenagoa has been a beehive of activities for some days now as youths are engaged with loading of the food items into the mammy boats for transportation to the riverine communities.

While some of the communities have already received their own items as at press time, the ferrying of the food items to some others is ongoing.

As at press time, a contingent of Chevron officials are visiting the communities to carry the thank you message to the people, witness the distribution of the food items and undertake medical and environmental assessment of the area.

In a related development, the Bayelsa State government has confirmed its commitment to continue to play mediatory role between the oil companies and the host communities.

The Commissioner for Environment, Chief Robert Enogha regretted the high level of inconsistency in the report of the communities over environmental issues citing the gas rig fire as an example.

He hinted that the State Ministry of Environment has developed a website that deals with environment issues, noting that the state government through the Ministry organized the first stakeholders’ summit on environment late last year and the oil companies also attended.

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