The Twon Brass community in Bayelsa, hosts to Agip’s Crude Export Terminal has begun protests against lingering power outage in the settlement that had hitherto enjoyed uninterrupted electricity for decades.
It was learnt on Monday, that the protests by members of the Agip host community had disrupted activities at the oil firm’s office premises located on Brass Island, near the Atlantic coastline.
The community members comprising women, youths and elders, had since May 14 occupied and blocked access to Agip’s operational office beating drums and singing solidarity songs, while demanding immediate restoration of power.
The aggrieved members of the community had remained adamant as their leaders, who were invited for talks with Agip officials, could not achieve any breakthrough in solving the problem.
Chief Benjamin Obuala, Chairman, Twon Brass Community Development Committee (CDC), who spoke to newsmen via telephone on Monday, said the power outage commenced since March and had crippled economic activities in the coastal settlement.
He said it was regrettable that while Agip neglected fixing the power plant that served the community, the company was maintaining the gas-fired turbine used for its operations, while the people go through untold economic hardship.
“We in Twon Brass have been used to having reliable power for a long time now and this outage, which happened, has left us in total darkness since March.
“Before this time, the turbine had been having issues and the officials have made promises to replace it, but we have been enduring for more than two months now and the situation has become unbearable.
“The provision of electricity is a social obligation by Agip to us and we cannot fold our arms when they show insensitivity to our economic interests.
“This power crisis has wrecked our businesses, especially fishing as the cold storage facilities are out of service as well as those dealing on perishable food items, and our women have said that they can no longer bear it, so we supported them.
“Here, the use of generators is not widespread as only very few people have generators, so when this outage happened it caught many people unawares leading to unquantifiable losses.
“But the oil firm has been looking the other way and not doing anything to redeem their yet to be fulfilled pledges.
“The neglect of other social obligations listed in our Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), including community development projects, provision of potable water, having polluted the Brass Canal, are also part of our grievances.
“We regret that our efforts to use the appropriate channels to resolve all these have been rebuffed by the management of Agip, but we have expressed restraint and kept our protest peaceful.
“We have remained on this protest for four days now and we shall remain resolute until Agip shows concern to our plight,” the CDC Chairman said.
When contacted on the development, Ms Cioni Maririna, Media Relations Official at Eni, parent company of Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC), declined to comment.
A source at the Oil Export Terminal off the Atlantic coast, however, confirmed that the facility was not affected by the power outage as the terminal is powered separately by its own turbine.