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IRIN NIGERIA: Niger Delta protesters close Shell facility


(IRIN is a UN Humanitarian Information Unit)


WARRI, 14 Apr 2004 (IRIN) - Protesters from a Niger Delta village have forced Royal Dutch Shell to close a major oil pumping facility, demanding the multinational company keep its promise to rebuild the road that links it to the outside world, residents said on Wednesday.


More than 200 protesters from Opherin village besieged Shell's nearby Erhiemu station on Tuesday morning to protest at their poverty despite living in an area rich with oil.


The facility has the capacity to pump 100,000 barrels daily from 24 oil wells. Eyewitnesses set it had been forced to shut down by the protest.


"We do not have anything to show for our status as the leading

oil-producing community in the delta," community leader Peter Onovaye, told reporters.


The unarmed protesters, including men, women and children, have set up camp inside the facility located 40 km north of Warri, a key operations base for oil companies in the Niger Delta.


Onovaye said the protesters would remain at the facility until Shell gave the community an undertaking to rebuild the road, which he described as their only link with the rest of Nigeria and vital for moving agricultural produce out of the farming community.


He said the villagers had resorted to protest action after Shell failed to respond favourably to a 90-day ultimatum to repair the road.


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