The Twon Brass community in Bayelsa, hosts to Agip’s Crude Export Terminal, has begun protests against lingering power outage in the settlement that hitherto had uninterrupted electricity for decades.
It was gathered on Monday that the protest by members of Agip host community has disrupted activities at the office premises of the oil firm located on the Brass Island near the Atlantic coastline.
The community members comprising women, youths and elders had since Friday, May 14 occupied and blocked access to Agip’s operational office beating drums and singing solidarity tunes demanding immediate restoration of power.
The aggrieved members of the community have remained adamant as the leaders who were invited for talks with Agip officials could not get any concrete plan to solve the problem.
Chief Benjamin Obuala, Chairman, Twon Brass Community Development Committee who spoke in a telephone interview from Brass on Monday said the power outage commenced since March 2021 and had crippled economic activities in the coastal settlement.
He said that it was regrettable that while Agip neglected fixing the power plant that served the community, the company maintains the gas fired turbine used for its operations making 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 the turbine.
“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 unfulfilled 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 is also part of our grievances.
“We regret that our efforts to use the appropriate channels to resolve these have all been rebuffed by the management of Agip but he 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 for our plight,” the CDC Chhaiman said.
When contacted for response Ms Cioni Maririna, Media Relations official at Eni, parent company of Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC), declined comments.
A source at the Oil Export Terminal off the Atlantic confirmed that the facility is not affected by the development as the terminal has a separate turbine that powers it.