…we’re unaware of any breach —Firm
By Emem Idio
YENAGOA—NO fewer than 12 Bayelsa State communities in Ekeremor and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas of the state under the Shell EA communities are at loggerheads with the management of a marine firm operating in the area, accusing it of alleged “breach of operational contractual agreement terms and discriminatory employment policies for indigenes.”
The communities also alleged that the firm is enforcing discriminatory policies against indigenes who are employed by the firm to short-change them. They claimed that indigenes employed are treated and paid like casual workers, insisting that such practices are unacceptable.
In a protest letter Chief Fred Saimodi, Secretary of EA Host Communities Chairmen Forum, on behalf of the communities, expressed dismay over “the deliberate breach of terms of operational agreement and conscious discriminatory policies targeted at indigenes employed by C & I Leasing Limited,” threatening to disrupt operations of the firm if not addressed.
He however, appealed to the management of the firm to refrain from act that would jeopardise their cordial relationship and call on the firm to take urgent steps to address the complaints and shortcomings in the interest of peace and harmony, stressing that the communities were ready to sit down and dialogue with the firm to resolve the seemingly strained relationship.
In his reaction, the Community and Public Relations Officer of C & I Leasing Limited, Mr Taiwo Bodunrin, said: “I don’t know what that means but if we have a breach the agreement, they should complain to SPDC. We are not the ones that convened the FTO, so if there is any breach of the FTO or whatever, they should go to the SPDC.”
Saimodi said: “As responsible host communities, we want to state our displeasure with the management of C & I Leasing Ltd; the communities signed a contract with the firm for Freedom To Operate, FTO, for five years. The contract started last year and according to the terms of contract, our indigenes were to have been employed since last year but they delayed their employment till this year.
“After grudgingly employed them, however, it is sad to observe they have devised a discriminatory policies against our people to short change them and to deny them their entitlements by reducing by relegating them to mere casual workers against our agreement, this is unacceptable to us. We are also calling on Shell to call them to order and prevail on the firm to address these issues in the interest of peace and harmony because they (C & I Leasing Ltd) are operating under the Shell EA Field.”
In his reaction, the Community and Public Relations Officer of C & I Leasing Ltd, Mr Taiwo Bodunrin, “I don’t know what that means but if we have breach the agreement, they should complain to SPDC, we are not the one that convened the FTO, so if there is any breach of the FTO or whatever, they should go to the SPDC,” he said.