17 February 2014, Warri – There was uneasy calm, weekend, at the Chevron Nigeria Limited operated Escravos Gas-To-Liquid, EGTL, project in Ugborodo, Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State, after soldiers, Saturday, fired tear gas at aggrieved Nigerian workers and chased them out of the camp.
One of the workers, who spoke to Vanguard from Escravos, yesterday morning, said: “We were forced out of our camp on Saturday morning by soldiers who fired tear gas at us. They beat up and handcuffed workers, all in a bid to intimidate and send us out of the camp, but there was no boat to evacuate us throughout Saturday after they violently threw us out.”
Asked where the workers slept, since he claimed there was no boat to evacuate them, he said: “The boat they said was coming to evacuate us did not come. We were outside till 7pm when the soldiers came back to beg us to go back and sleep in the camp. They appealed that we should not be angry over the treatment they meted out to us, and that they did what government directed them to do.
“As I speak to you, we woke up very early. As at 11.02 am, we are still waiting for them to bring a boat to evacuate us. We have been suffering here since Saturday. There is no boat yet. When we got back to the camp, Saturday evening, soldiers had scattered everywhere; you would have felt bad for us as Nigerians, if you had seen how shabbily we were treated.”
The workers, who locked down the company for five days, are at loggerheads with Chevron’s management, over alleged non-payment of their pay-off after the successful conclusion of the project.
Chevron, however, told a different story from the aggrieved workers. It claimed that some of community workers were the ones that held other workers hostage in the camp.
General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs of the company, Mr. Deji Hasstrup, in a statement, said “Chevron confirms that more than 1,000 junior contract workers locked down over the past five days in our EGTL camp have been freed.
“The workers had been held against their will by some protesting community workers employed by local community contractors. The Federal Government’s security apparatus, the Joint Task Force, JTF, successfully set the workers free on February 15, 2014. All the workers are safe and on their way home.
“We are happy that this has been finally brought to a peaceful conclusion. Many of the workers are now either back in Warri, Delta State or en-route to Warri to re-unite with their families. Chevron has notified their employers of the successful rescue of their workers.”
– Emma Amaize, Vanguard