By Gabriel Enogholase
BENINâ€”Environment Rights Action (ERA) and Iguobazuwa women farmers in Ovia South West local government area of Edo state are to stage a peaceful protest against Michelin Nigeria Plc, as the companyâ€™s activities in its rubber plantation in the area are constituting health hazards to the people of the communities.
Consequent upon this, ERA said that it has collected over 4000 internationally signed petitions to be sent to the presidency and all other relevant government agencies on the environmental impact of the companyâ€™s activities in the communities.
Vanguard learnt that the communities affected are Aifesoba, Iguobazuwa, Obozogbe, Ora,Iguoriakhi, Igueihase and Amienghomwan, all in Ovia South West local government area of Edo State. The farmers alleged that their crops were destroyed without adequate compensation.
It was further gathered that the company acquired the Iguobazuwa forest reserve, covering over 3500 hactares of land, towards the twilight of former Governor Lucky Igbinedionâ€™s administration in 2007.
According to the Project Officer, Forest and Biodiversity/Media Relations of ERA, Rita Osarogiagbon, while speaking with newsmen a working visit to the plantation, said the Iguobazuwa forest reserve might soon go extinct if urgent steps were not taken to stop its conversion into a rubber plantation.
She lamented that communities affected were not adequately compensated as a result of poor impact assessment purportedly carried out by Michelin Plc, which had resulted in impoverishment of its citizens.
â€œOut of the eleven communities neighbouring the Iguobazuwa forest reserve, seven are highly impacted by the Michelin rubber plantation of which one was singled-out and paid full compensation. But others were given crumbs, miserable amount,â€ Osarogiagbon added.