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 Delta community, oil firm’s row over waterways dredging worsens

Delta community, oil firm’s row over waterways dredging worsens


The dispute between Polobubo (Tsekelewu), a riverside Ijaw oil community in Egbema Kingdom, Warri North Local Government Area, Delta State and Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC/El-Crest, over dredging of the community’s waterways, which the villagers claimed was detrimental to their safety and surroundings deteriorated, yesterday.

The community, host to NPDC/El-Crest JV in OML 40, Opuama Flowstation, issued a seven-day ultimatum to NPDC, last week, to open negotiations with the people or they would shut down its operations in the area.

In a joint statement, yesterday (Wednesday), President-General, Dr Bright Abulu and two others accused the company of rebuffing dialogue, saying: “The ultimatum stands.”

The statement read: “Recall, NPDC/Elcrest management’s refusal for peaceful resolution of the impact of past and ongoing dredging activities in Tsekelewu community and waterways made Polobubo (Tsekelewu) community national executive council to hold a press conference on January 19, 2022, and issued a seven-day ultimatum to NPDC/Elcrest, which elapsed January 26, 2022.

The ultimatum stands.”We want to inform the management of NPDC/Elcrest JV management and the government of Delta State,  the Federal Government and international community that the issues that made us to address the press conference have not been attended to because NPDC refused to dialogue. And nobody should blame Polobubo (Tsekelewu) community if NPDC/Elcrest JV operations is stopped.”

“Tsekelewu is peaceful community, hence this request for the government intervention as contained in the press conference to avoid pending shutdown of NPDC/Elcrest operations, which NPDC/Elcrest JV management refusal for dialogue could result to. A stitch in time saves nine.

“Tsekelewu is an autonomous community headed by the Polobubo (Tsekelewu) National Council (The PNC) which is the highest decision making body. We have an approved and signed constitution in Polobubo (Tsekelewu) community that governs our activities,” the people said.

The community at a press conference, last week, stated: “We wish to bring to your attention the emergency situation we have found ourselves as a community due to NPDC past and current dredging and oil and gas operations in the Opuama flow station and Polobubo (Tsekelewu) community axis and the refusal of the company to honor several invitations for a meeting with the community leadership on how to address the hazardous effects of its dredging and sweeping operations on the access waterways to Polobubo (Tsekelewu) community.”

“It should be recalled that the leadership of Polobubo (Tsekelewu) community’s national executive council (host community to Opuama Flow-Station) on the 9th of December, 2021 wrote to NPDC management, requesting for a meeting to proffer solution on the negative impact of past and ongoing dredging activities on Polobubo (Tsekelewu) community and other sundry issues relating to its operations. This letter was acknowledged by the NPDC Managing Director’s office. However, no response came from the company and no reason was given.

“A reminder letter was written on December 24, 2021, and was acknowledged by same office on December 31, 2021, but again there was no response. A third letter was sent on January 5, 2022   and acknowledged on the 7th, in which the national security agencies and the Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, were copied, calling for a meeting to hold on January 10, 2022.

“Regrettably, as we speak, there has been no response from the company. NPDC/Elcrest have refused/failed to honour Polobubo (Tsekelewu) community invitations to a meeting intended to proffer solutions to the negative impact of the dredging of the main waterways on mobility and economic activities of Polobubo (Tsekelewu) community.  Yet the dredging project is going on unabated to the extent that an oil well drilling rig has been moved into our territory to carry out extensive drilling operations”.

Efforts to reach the firm for comment failed.

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