By Onome Oghenetega
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has warned the management of a catering firm, WHASSAN and its workers over the disruption of oil production activities at the Shell Petroleum Development Company’s Forcados Export Terminal in Burutu Council area of the state.
A dispute between WHASSAN and its employees had led to shutting down of activities at Nigeria’s major oil export terminal over workers’ welfare.
The disagreement which started as a mere workers’ demand for their welfare entitlements later escalated to denying other workers within the terminal food and other catering services.
However, visibly angry Governor Okowa has ordered normal operations to resumed at the Terminal following an urgent meeting of stakeholders to resolve the rift on Monday.
At the meeting held at the Government House Annex, Edjeba, Warri, the governor waned that his administration will no longer condone further disruption operations at the terminal by any aggrieved group or firm.
Okowa, represented by the State Commissioner for Oil & Gas, Prince Emmanuel Amgbaduba urged both parties to agree to terms that will ensure smooth operations of the company in Forcados terminal, adding that their continued rift had caused a dip in oil production in the country.
He directed the firm to promptly pay pensions and other entitlements of their workers or face the risk of termination of the contract.
“Let me emphasize here that government is not happy with the incessant disruption of operations in the terminal on account of workers welfare and as such the company must do everything possible to pay the workers their entitlements or risk termination of their contract.
“The country largely depends on oil exports from the Forcados Terminal to earn revenue for the provision of infrastructure and other developmental needs for our people and we will no longer condone avoidable disruption in operations.
“We need a peaceful environment for all firms operating in the state to help us generate the much needed revenues for our development,” Okowa warned.
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Human Resources Manager of WHASSAN, Martha Ikenga said the company was happy with government’s intervention on the matter and reiterated the company’s preparedness to comply with the resolutions reached at the meeting.
The workers on their part pledged never to stop operations again over default of payment but channel such grievances to the government through the ministry of Oil & Gas.
The meeting was attended by SPDC’s Community Interface Coordinator, Engr. Jerry-Gaultney Udjo; Chairmen of Ogulagha, Obotobo I and II communities, their youth presidents, Chairmen and Secretaries of Community Trusts of the various communities, Management of the catering company as well as representatives of the aggrieved staffs.