By Brave Dickson
The people of Tai Local Government Area of Rivers State under the aegis of Tai-Shell Cluster Development Board have assured the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) that the era of pipeline vandalism in the area is over.
This assurance is coming shortly after the cluster board led by its Chairman, Hon. Sunday Akpene took over the pipeline surveillance contract from private contractors.
Hon Akpene noted that prior to his emergence, pipeline vandalism in the LGA was on the increase, following what he called shortage of surveillance guards as well as peanut salaries.
He said the narratives have changed as his chairmanship had employed more surveillance guards from the LGA, adding that their salaries are attractive and are coming every month.
“I took over the leadership of Tai Cluster Development Board in 2016 with a total number of 152 surveillance guards under my watch and Shell has been paying every month.
“Before we took over this surveillance job, it was with private contractors and the rate of oil theft and vandalism was on the increase.
“But after we took over the surveillance job, oil theft and vandalism got reduced significantly and Shell is happy with us.
“The area is volatile but we are still in control. As I speak with you, Shell does pay the guards and they are very happy with Shell.
“Under the former private contractors as I mentioned earlier, they employed 10 surveillance guards to protect about seven kilometres pipeline and were paying them peanuts.
“But now as I speak with you, every kilometre has four surveillance guards and the work is going on smoothly including grass cutting.
“If anybody blames Shell for not developing its host community, I will not blame Shell but would rather blame our people for trying to eat alone,” the chairman said.