The paramount ruler of Ogale, and Egbere Emere Okori & Oneh Eh Nchia X of Eleme. His Royal Highness king. Dr. Appolus Chu, calls on Indorama Petrochemical Ltd. And Rivers state ministry of Land and Housing to a Town Hall and stakeholders meeting (Community engagement) to observe protocol on the enumeration exercise in the community over the proposed road or pipeline project that’s ongoing.
Indorama Petrochemical needs to fully engage the community via town hall meetings in other to educate, inform and enlighten the people of Ogale on their intended project in my community. This will give room for the company to throw lights on the environmental impacts and health effects of their intended project. However, Avoidance of protocol equates politicising the normal procedure of undertaking a project on a host community soil.
Nigeria is a democratic nation, with inscription of fundamental rights in the constitution, amongst which is freedom of expression. Many Nigerians feel reluctant and unwilling to ask questions especially when government or personalities are involved or have interest in the subject matter, even though it concerns their welfare, environment and well-being.
In Rivers state, Nigeria. There is an ongoing clean up initiated by the Buhari Administration. As recommended in a 2011 United Nations Environment Report, commissioned by the Nigerian government, on the impact of oil extraction in Ogoniland which my community, Ogale is one of the communities affected. The report found severe and widespread contamination of soil and ground water across Ogoniland. In a number of locations public health was severely threatened by contaminated drinking water and carcinogens. Delta ecosystems such as mangroves had been utterly devastated. The report also found that institutional control measures in place both in the oil industry and the Government were not implemented adequately. The report proposed the establishment of a Restoration Authority with an explicit mandate to clean up Ogoniland and restore the ecosystems and also recommended the establishment of an Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Fund with an initial capitalization of 1 billion dollars to cover the clean-up costs. This clean up is a result of environmental impact that happened over fifty years ago.
A community who has suffered the consequences of environmental impact of oil spillage, for instance in Ogale clan, there are numerous pipeline networks ranging from PPMC, Shell Petroleum Development Company, and now Indorama Petrochemical ltd is to run another pipelines for their commercial purpose. Such communities who are victims of environmental challenges would not fold hands and see another possible widow of passing dangerous chemicals capable of causing another environmental and health hazards and do nothing. Not forgetting the environmental disturbance and challenge in Rivers state called Black soot, in every direction, lives are a stake.
The unclear issue on Eleme Petrochemical company paving an alternative route through Agbonchia, Ogale, Ebubu to Onne sea port for easy conveyance of their products, is generating so much questions, yet unanswered. Is it really a road? Or is it pipelines they wants to lay or run, for convenient and easy conveyance of their products? So many questions, yet unanswered.
If it’s a road they want to pave as a social responsibility to the community, it should be stated clear so the community can appreciate them. Or Is it pipeline they want to run through our community? Or is there something they don’t want to disclose? Or are they seeing the community as uncivilised and still living in the past? That’s why they are avoiding community engagement and meetings?
Knowing full well that, Petrochemical products are large group of chemicals derived from natural gas and Petroleum and further used for variety of chemicals purposes, which includes aliphatic, aromatic, and naphthenic organic chemicals, as well as carbon black and such inorganic materials as sulfur and ammonia.
As such, if pipelines are run close to residential area or community, the people are exposed to health and environmental risks. If there be mechanical faults, the chemicals transported in the pipelines could pose a great health and environmental challenges to the people, it could result to unprecedented casualties.
If Eleme Petrochemical company is intending to pave a new route in its host community, it should make it clear and if it’s an installation of pipelines for transportation of their products, the community should be properly informed, educated and enlightened about the cautionary steps, eventually side efforts and concerns if any.
A United States research published in June 2003, by the Hazardous Substance Research Centre. South & SouthWest noted that, the potential environmental hazards associated with refineries have caused increased
concern for communities in close proximity to them. Some environmental hazards includes, air pollution, water pollution and soil pollution. The research also shows that, refineries are a major source of hazardous and toxic air pollutants such as BTEX compounds (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene). They are also a major source of
criteria air pollutants: particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen
sulfide (H2S), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). Refineries also release less toxic hydrocarbons such as natural
gas (methane) and other light volatile fuels and oils. Some of the chemicals released are known or suspected cancer-causing agents, responsible for developmental and reproductive problems. They may also aggravate certain respiratory conditions such as childhood asthma. Along with the possible health effects from exposure to these chemicals, these chemicals may cause worry and fear among residents of surrounding communities.
Environmental hazards are deadlier than banditry and covid 19.
With all this available informations, laying of pipelines in the residential area and community definitely give raise to questions which would only be sorted through engaging the community in a Town meeting for proper enlightenment, with necessary documentation as regards the benefits of the project to the community, and a signage of memorandum of understanding, between the Indorama Petrochemical ltd and the pipeline host communities.
Another point that needs clarification is, what kind of product or products would be transported in the pipelines? because we need to know the number of products that would be pass through the lines, what’s their names and hazards of each products as they switch over, time to time in transportation for exports. What are the categories of pipe to be used? Is it coated, plain, or plastic pipes? Each of these pipes determines the environmental safety level. What are the engineering recommendations on installation of the pipes? Is it going to be surface or in depth pipe? How deep will the excavation be? What are the control measures put in place?
What size of pipe would be use? because the bigger the size of the pipe, the higher the volume of products transported through it and incase of mechanical failure, it would tell the volume of products splits in the environment and impact on the people. What should my people be concern about? What are the peculiar hazards associated with such products to humans and environment, in case of a mechanical faults on the pipeline.
On the other hand, if Indorama Petrochemical is paving an alternate route for commercial purposes, is the company incorporating the community as its host? The road will boost the company’s value by warranting easy transportation of its products. How is the community going to benefits from this value gain.
So much questions, yet to be answered. Some said, the Indorama is laying pipelines for a more economical, safe, convenient and reliable transportation of their products to Onne sea port for exports, some said it paving an alternate route. either way, the company should engage the community and set the records straight by educating and properly informing the community on the intended project.
This is 21st century, the world have move pass the age of ignorance. My community and my subjects reserves the right to know what is happening in on their soul, what they would be sacrificing and what they stand to gain, the expected or possible hazards, the compensation to the people incase of any mechanical failure or situation, the company should give the people the opportunity to debate either for or against their wish, until an agreement is reached.
Indorama Petrochemical ltd is a private owned company like any other business registered with Corporate Affairs Commission, whose products are mainly for commercial purposes and for their personal benefits.
Therefore, their personal interest shouldn’t affect the well-being of my people. As the company grows, expands and smile to the bank as it makes more profits, my people should smile to the bank too from our own contribution as one of the stakeholder and contributors to their success. Not when the community is neglected while they smile to the bank with fat cheques and my subjects frown to the hospital and graveyard due to the consequences of their products. As such, Indorama should be especially cautions of the lives and environmental concerns of its activities. This is key to live, progress and development of my community.
His Royal Highness.
King Dr. Appolus Chu.
Egbere Emere Okori and Oneh Eh Nchia X Eleme.