10th March, 2022
By Shedrack Frank
The four communities constituting the Kolo-Creek Cluster Development Board in the Ogbia Local Government Area (LGA) of Bayelsa on Wednesday threatened to stop operations at Shell’s oilfields over failure to provide electricity.
The communities said they will act if Shell fails to deliver after fourteen days.
The ultimatum followed several delays by the oil firm which had resulted in missed timelines to deliver power as pledged.
The Bayelsa government which has been mediating in the dispute following a protest in Dec 2021, however, urged the people to exercise restraint.
The Deputy Governor, Mr. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, made the appeal when he met with community leaders, executives of the cluster board, and other representatives from Otuasega, Elebele, Oruma and Imiringi at his office in Government House, Yenagoa.
The meeting came on the heels of a 14-day ultimatum issued by the Kolo-Creek Cluster Communities to the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to fulfil its agreement with the cluster board on restoring electricity to the communities.
The ultimatum letter which was jointly signed by the paramount rulers of Imiringi, Otuasega, Oruma and Elebele communities demanded the restoration of electricity among other due obligations yet to be met.
It demanded the immediate operationalization of the 2.5 MVA generator installed by Morpol Engineering Services Limited and the award of contract for the Oruma high tension line.
It stated that the SPDC had “deliberately refused to honor the agreements it had with the cluster communities on several occasions since 2013.
According to the ultimatum, the communities will shut down all the oil installations and platforms in Kolo-Creek at the expiration of the ultimatum.
However, addressing delegation of the Kolo-Creek cluster communities, the deputy governor appealed to them to exercise some more patience, as the government is making efforts to resolve the issues.
Ewhrudjakpo said the state government is not happy with the attitude of the SPDC for repeatedly reneging on its promises to restore electricity to its host communities in the Kolo Creek Cluster.
He pleaded with the communities to give the government the very last chance to get around the long-drawn blackout in the area.
The Deputy Governor added that nobody would blame the communities for shutting down the oil installations if the SPDC failed again for the umpteenth time to fulfill its part of the agreement.
Speaking on behalf of the communities, the Paramount Ruler of Elebele, His Royal Highness David Osene, lamented that they had been suffering without electricity for nine years, precisely since 2013.
He said the cluster communities had been very peaceful, in spite of the provocative attitude of the SPDC for almost a decade.
He said that they had resolved to shut down the oil installations in their area in two weeks’ time, if nothing substantial is done.
In his contribution, the Chairman of the Bayelsa State Electricity Company, Mr Olice Kemenanabo, said if all the necessary materials were provided, the power project could be delivered within the timelines reached at a recent meeting between Shell and the state government.
He noted, however, that only the SPDC could cause any further delay in the restoration of power to the communities as the state government had already played its part.
Mr. Bamidele Odugbesan, Media Relations Manager at SPDC, has yet to respond to a request for reaction on the development