Petroleum Industry Act: Bayelsa ready for Littoral Communities’ Mapping

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By Eunice Nnachi, Yenagoa

The Bayelsa State Government has expressed its readiness to work with the National Boundary Commission (NBC) to have its littoral communities lying within 500 metres from the Atlantic Ocean coastline captured in the ongoing mapping exercise.

Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo stated this on Thursday at a meeting with critical stakeholders including local government officials and the leadership of Host Communities Development Trust in the state at Government House in Yenagoa.

In a statement issued by his media aide on Thursday, Senator Ewhrudjakpo underscored the importance of the mapping exercise, stressing that it would enable communities that are yet to be recognized as oil and gas bearing communities along the Atlantic coastline.

According to the statement, the ongoing mapping exercise is pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 3 of the Nigerian Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) aimed at enabling affected communities to form development trusts.

Senator Ewhrudjakpo, who expressed concern that Bayelsa was the only oil-producing state where littoral communities were yet to be captured by the National Boundary Commission, urged community leaders to take the exercise seriously.

Emphasizing the urgency required to carry out the delineation exercise, the Deputy Governor noted that failure to capture the Bayelsa littoral communities would deny them the immediate and long-term benefits as stipulated in the PIA.

To this end, he directed the Office of the state Surveyor General to liaise with local government chairmen, and other critical stakeholders to identify communities that are located within 500 metres from the coastline before the arrival of the NBC officials.

He appealed to local government authorities and traditional rulers of the various communities to create an enabling environment for the NBC to successfully carry out the exercise which is expected to commence soon.

His words: “The delineation of littoral communities in oil producing states in respect of Chapter 3 of the Petroleum Industry Act is yet to be conducted in our state.”

“The exercise is being carried out by the National Boundary Commission to capture communities that lie within 500 metres from the coastline as provided by the PIA.

“Our communities must be captured for them to benefit from the exercise. Therefore, our local government chairmen and traditional rulers have a role to play to create an enabling environment for the work to be done.

“Coastline communities in five other oil producing states have been successfully captured in the exercise. So, we should know we are running against time and act accordingly in order not to be left out in the programme.”

In their separate remarks, the Chairman of the Host Communities Development Trust (HCDT), Barrister Ebikese Okoko, and the Chairman of KEFFES Rural Development Foundation (KRDF), Chief Christopher Tuduo, explained that they were prepared to collaborate with government and the NBC to ensure the success of the exercise.