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Partial power restoration fails to stop community protests at Agip’s Brass terminal

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Economic activities at Twon Brass, hosts to Agip’s Oil Export Terminal in Bayelsa have remained grounded as residents continued to occupy the premises of the oil firm even after power supply had been partially restored to the community.

Residents had on May 14 disrupted activities at the oil firm, by blocking access to the facility in protest of alleged two months power outage and failure of the management of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) to honour its social obligations to its host community.

The management of Eni, the Italian parent company of NAOC, had in a statement on May 21 announced that power supply to the area had been restored following repair work on a power cable damaged by thunderstorms.

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However, Mr Taribalalate George, a resident of Twon Brass said in a telephone interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Monday, that because the power situation was yet to stabilise, the people were still at the protest site.

“As we speak, there is no power in Twon Brass, but they brought the light on Thursday (May 20) but it has been going off and on and we are suspicious that it is a ploy to disperse the people while the power issue persists.

“The protest is still on, because we have so many issues bordering on Agip’s neglect of their social obligations as spelt out in our Memorandum of Understanding. It was the power outage that sparked off the protests and we insist that all other issues are resolved as well,” George said.

He explained that the community leaders and some government officials were expected at the Agip’s Terminal gate  to meet with the protesters and brief them on progress made in the negotiations, but they failed to show up as at Monday morning.

He said that women were at the front lines with the youths to avert further escalation and conflict with armed soldiers deployed to protect the facility, while ensuring that the agitation for community development remained peaceful.

The protests became rowdy on May 19 when the traditional ruler, King Alfred Diette-Spiff, appealed to the protesters to disperse while their grievances were being discussed with NAOC, but the angry mob attacked him and he had to be whisked away for safety, while a 24-year old was shot in the commotion.

In its reaction to requests for comments by NAN, Eni claimed that power had been restored and that the protests did not adversely impact on oil exports from the Brass Terminal.

“An electrical cable connecting the terminal to the community was damaged by lightning, thereby leaving the community without electricity. This led to peaceful protests at the Brass terminal gate.

“The repair job has been done on an urgent basis and power to the community has been fully restored today (Friday).

“Production has not been impacted and we expect the normalization of operations in the next few days,” Eni stated.

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