Daily Independent (Nigeria): Shell, Iwhrekan community disagree on oil spill clean-up contract: Wednesday 30 November 2005
By Tunke-Aye Bisina
Multinational oil giants, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), and the Iwhrekan Community in Delta State appear set for a fresh battle over the award of a contract for the clean-up of spillage in the community, which reportedly sparked off a crisis in the area recently.
In a petition to the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Udom Ekpoudom, the solicitor to the community, Mr. M.E. Tachi, accused the company of dividing the contract award process and blamed it for the October 30 crisis.
But Shell’s External Affairs Manager (West), Mr Harriman Oyofo, dismissed the accusation as baseless, affirming that the contract was awarded through a competitive bidding and won by a competent contractor.
According to the community, “it has been the practice of SPDC to allow host communities who suffered from the ordeals and hazards of oil spillage, which was caused by the equipment failure…to kindly recommend contractor(s) for clean-up exercise of the polluted area.”
It added that even the House of Representatives committee that visited in the area in the wake of the spill “advised the SPDC officials to respect the nomination of any competent registered contractor from the community by the community executive for the clean-up exercise.”
The petition noted that surprisingly, Shell in defiance of that practice and advise by the House committee, chose a contractor that was not recommended by the community.
“We are bound to intimate you (police commissioner ) that the attitude of SPDC in this matter calls for questioning as they have ignited crisis in our client’s community by employing their divide-and-rule tactics to cause more tension and crisis in Iwhrekan community.
“We pray you invite SPDC for questioning to avert further trouble in Iwhrekan community…SPDC should be charged to allow peace to reign in Iwhrekan community through meaningful dialogue and not through imposition of contractors to the detriment of the community,” the petition read.
But, Oyofo dismissed the claim, querying, “how can community recommend a contractor? We put out contracts for open bids among the people from that community…. If a job is coming to the community, why should you recommend? How would you ensure fairness?
“We were at the (state) Security Council (meeting) and the ruling of the council was that Shell will select somebody who is not from the community, who is neutral to clean-up the place…Since Zik Gbemre and Associates, which won the contract clean and fair, who is an indigence from the place, they refuse to allow him do the job.”
“The two parties that are in conflict Shell has nothing to do with it. We did not impose any body. So they should please stop accusing Shell of divide-and-rule.”
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