Shell Petroleum Workers on Site
Belema community and their neighbour the Offoin-Ama community, both in the Kula Kingdom, in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State are up in arms against Shell Petroleum Development Company SPDC. Last week the communities’ youths protested against Shell’s neglect of their communities and victimisation of their people despite operating a profitable crude oil flow station known as OML 25in their community for 35 years.
The protesters numbering in thousands comprising elders, women, and youths last week stormed the oil giant facility in the area forcing operations of the facility to be suspended. It was gathered that shortly before the planned protest; shell having gotten wind of the impending protest had swiftly evacuated its staffs to a safer place pending the resolution of issues with the community.
The communities’ grievances against Shell Petroleum are the same familiar accusation against not only Shell but most of the international oil companies IOCs operating in the Niger Delta. These include issues of neglect, discrimination in the award of contracts against the locals in favour of the company’s stooges and cronies. Shell petroleum is also accused of denying the locals’ employment opportunities in the oil company.
Others grievances of the communities against Shell includes none receipt of benefits from millions of crude oil drilled from their land and exported abroad. Also is none mitigation of the horrendous negative effect of crude oil exploration, which has caused pollution in their communities. As a result of pollution, their farmland and rivers are no longer suitable for farming and fishing.
A spokesman for the communities decried the wickedness and neglect of the oil giant against them for over 35 years. He stated that after 35 years of operation by Shell petroleum in their community, there is nothing to show. There is no good source of water, no good schools, no good roads, and no infrastructure to display as evident of Shell Petroleum’s presence in their land. Rather, Shell petroleum has brought tears and sorrows, oil pollution and destruction of their farmlands and environment.
Violent Protest Sometimes Ensured
The protesting communities said they are clamouring for the oil giant to leave their community so that a better oil company can come and change their condition as it is happening in other communities.
The opinion of most of the protesters, especially the youths are that Shell Petroleum has failed and disappointed them as the operating company in their community. In the words of one of the youths “No job, no employment, no schools, no health centres, no water, no light and no business for the locals. No financial support to start a business, what then is the use of Shell petroleum in our community. We don’t want them, they should go”.