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Friday, September 29, 2023

Bayelsa wades into conflict between Shell and host community over power supply

Bayelsa State Government on Monday, January 3, 2022 directed the Managing Director of the State Electricity Company, Mr Olice Kemenanabo, to immediately connect Otuasega community to the national grid.

Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo
Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State

The deputy governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, gave the directive as the government waded into a crisis between Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and its Otuasega host community.

Otuasega community in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa shut activities at SPDC’s facilities on Dec. 21, 2021 to protest its failure to provide electricity by Dec. 14, 2021 as promised.

Shell had earlier set Dec. 14, 2021 as target date to begin power supply from its Kolo Creek Oil and Gas Manifold to cluster communities in the area.

Media aide to the deputy governor, Mr Doubara Atasi, said in a statement issued on Monday that Ewhrudjakpo gave the directive during an emergency meeting held with Otuasega community leaders and representatives of SPDC.

The deputy governor decried the continued blackout in Otuasega community and in its environs.

He blamed SPDC’s failure on the inability of government, Shell, and the people of Otuasega to meet regularly and follow up on resolutions reached at the Sept. 24, 2021 tripartite meeting on power supply.

He said the community would enjoy power supply from the national grid as a temporary measure, while efforts would be intensified to power the community from the SPDC’s manifold in the first quarter of 2022.

Ewhrudjakpo assured that regular meetings would be held with Shell until the power supply issue was resolved.

He appealed to the people of Otuasega to be patient and to remain law-abiding to enable the government and Shell to end blackout in the community.

Earlier, the Otuasega Community Development Committee chairman, Mr Raniyar Marcus, expressed disappointment with Shell for reneging on its promise to deliver the job by Dec. 14, 2021.

Marcus noted that the Dec. 21, 2021 non-violent protest that led to the shutting of the SPDC manifold was staged by community members to register their anger.

He alleged also that Shell had always taken the Otuasega people for granted.

In his presentation, Shell’s Community Relations Manager (East), Mr Evans Krukrubo, explained that the company was not happy that the power project was not delivered on schedule.

Krukrubo, however, thanked the Otuasega community for their maturity, patience and understanding so far.

He assured them that Shell was committed to working with the state government to deliver on the project by the end of February.

By Nathan Nwakamma

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