Posted by News Express | 10 May 2018 | 1,796 times
Residents of Ikarama, in Yenagoa local government, Bayelsa, have requested construction of a two-kilometre access to an oilfield operated by Nigeria Agip Oil Company in the area.
Hundreds of members of the community who sang solidarity songs and danced around the riverside settlement made the demand during an advocacy rally at Ikarama on Monday.
Speaking at the event, Chief Herbertson Alfred bemoaned a scenario where officials of Agip pass through neighbouring communities in Rivers state to get access to Ikarama fields a distance of approximately 16 kilometres.
He said that the practice makes it difficult for the community to monitor the movement of unscrupulous people who often vandalised pipelines at the oilfield to create the wrong impression that Ikarama people are vandals.
He said that the people had tabled its request for construction of the two-kilometre access road in writing and was deploying peaceful and persuasive ways to get Agip to see the need for the road to both parties.
He said: “Agip started operating in Ikarama forests in 1984, and when they started operations they said they did not have the resources to construct a bridge across the Ikarama river and opted to pass through Idagbare in Rivers.
“That route is awkward and causes a lot of problems, it is like a visitor passing through the window or kitchen to enter your house, we want Agip to come into Ikarama through our entrance and not through the window.
“Fortunately Shell had constructed a solid bridge across Ikarama river to their own location in Ikarama so it has become very easy and the community will give them the land at no cost because the road will open up the areas nearby.
“It will be a win-win situation for all of us and we had appealed to Agip to do the road and we want other stakeholders to prevail on the oil firm to take advantage of our hand of friendship and work with us to unlock our potentials.”
The monarch stated that contrary to the perception that Ikarama was notorious for oil spills from pipeline sabotage; the breaches in the oilfield were perpetrated by people who gain access through other communities.
Speaking also, Mrs Ayibakoro Warder Women leader of Ikarama noted that the road to the oilfields would add value to the fishing and farming vocations of the people and connect them to the markets for their produce.
She said that the construction of the access road to the Ikarama oil fields would reposition the area for economic development and bring the social benefits to the community.
“For a very long time the benefits accruing from our lands in Ikarama has been going to other communities in Rivers state, the officials of Agip have not seen us as their hosts and we do not know when they come and go.
“We want them to do a road to their Taylor Creek locations 1 and 2 so that we will be closer to them and get the benefits from our natural endowments as well as open up the vast fertile land where we farm,” Warder said.
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