Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Aggrieved indigenes of Olomoro Community in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta have shut down operations of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 30 operated by the Heritage Energy Oil Services Limited (HEOSL).
The angry host community indigenes reportedly stormed the premises of the oil firm on Saturday to peacefully protest an alleged disengagement of eight indigenes of the community working with the company.
The protesters carried placards with different inscriptions such as: “Heritage, just reinstate all the indigenous workers”, “we will not leave until you do the needful” and others.
They insisted the community workers were sacked without any reason as they accused the company of unduly marginalizing the host community.
The Patron, Olomoro Indigenes Heritage Staff, Mr Okpogbo Peter told journalists yesterday that the company would not be reopened until the affected staff were reabsorbed.
According to him, the disengaged workers were employees of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) before it was bought over by the Nigerian Petroleum and Development Company (NPDC) in 2012.
He said that HEOSL had not employed any Olomoro indigene since it inherited the assets from NPDC in 2017.
“Shell requested the workers from the Olomoro Community and transfer their assets and workers to NPDC in 2012. HEOSL bought the facilities in 2017. Since 2017, HEOSL has never employed anybody from Olomoro Community but would rather sack our people employed by Shell.
“We disagree with that. Heritage has no right to sack any of our community workers that were employed by Shell. They are owing Olomoro Community slots, so we are saying the sacked community workers be called back immediately,” he said.
Peter said that the action would be sustained until the workers were reabsorbed.
Also, one of the retrenched staff of the company, Mr Steve Okaro alleged that Heritage Energy had made a series of illegal employment over the years which had over-bloated the staff strength.
He alleged further that another company was attempting to buy HEOSL but complained of the over-bloated staff strength.
“We learnt that a new company is coming to take over from Heritage but it’s like the company is complaining about the staff strength. Now, they want to let some workers go and it is the community workers. Those workers they employed through the back doors, they did not touch them.
“They are owing Olomoro Community more slots and they are dropping our people. We are saying, no way, we cannot take it from them. All the eight sacked workers should be reinstated.
“Our President-General, Chief Commander Samuel said we should take it diplomatically with them but they are not shifting ground, hence the protest,” he said.
Mr Fidelis Oghenede, a member of the Olomoro indigene Heritage Staff said that the disengagement of their kinsmen by the company was unacceptable.
“We the community staff from Olomoro say no. This is unacceptable. Provide more slots for us, employ more people from the community and not push them back to the community,” he said.
However, the HEOSL Community Relations Officer simply identified as Mr Williams said that he was not authorised to speak with the press, promising to send the contact of the right person which he never did.
“I am not allowed to speak with the press. It is not my function. I will send you the contact of the right person to speak with,” Williams said.