Vanguard (Lagos)

8 March 2012

Nigeria: Chevron Gas Explosion - Affected Workers Seal Off Company Premises

Warri — Chevron Nigeria Limited workers, affected by the January 16, Rig KS Endeavor (Panama) gas explosion at the North Apoi Field, West of the Funiwa Field in Koluama clan, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, yesterday, sealed off the oil company's administrative office in Warri, Delta State, crippling its operations.

The more than 80 workers, made up of Ilaje, Itsekiri and Ijaw of Delta and Bayelsa host communities, are protesting alleged non-payment of their salaries and allowances for over three months.

The rig explosion, which killed two workers and left many others severely injured, had kept the affected workers at home since the incident.

In a letter to the Area Commander, Delta South Area Command, Nigeria Police, Warri, by David Onofomi, Chairman and Kelly Nomiye, Secretary, the protesting workers alleged that "on arrival in Warri on January 17, after surviving the gas explosion, Chevron officials addressed us and promised that all the workers' welfare would be taken care of and that the workers would be on stand-by with pay for the time being."

The letter added that Chevron said it would liaise with Fode/Gus Consulting Ltd. to meet the necessary obligations to them, expressing regret that neither Chevron nor Fode/Gus Consulting had bothered about their welfare till date, even after several entreaties and that "no salary has been paid to us nor has benefit of any kind reached us."

They maintained that the protest was a peaceful one to draw the attention of all the relevant authorities. When Vanguard visited the protesters at Chevron, the workers were shut out of their offices while two management staff engaged the leaders in dialogue with stern looking mobile policemen keeping watch.

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