By Omuboye Sukubo
Robert-Kiri (Rivers) – Former occupants of Robert-Kiri, Belema Industrial Island, on Monday said that they were not forced to leave their homes, but were duly compensated with ex gratia when they were relocated from the area.
Mr Lolo Dokubo told newsmen at the island in Kula, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers, that Belema Pipeline Limited pleaded with them to relocate in order to site economic and developmental projects in the area.
Dokubo said they were therefore, duly compensated beyond their expectation.
“I was the biggest landlord here, I had 11 buildings and sincerely, what Belema Pipeline gave us is huge and most of us have never seen that kind of bulk money before.
“We were never forced out from this place; the company reached a compensation agreement with us and did beyond what we expected.
“We have been settled with enough money that we can make use of for a better tomorrow; as you can see, we are all happy,” he said.
Pastor of the Apostolic Church, Nigeria, Maritime Territory, Robert-Kiri Assembly, Mr Baribove Kuna, commended Belema Pipeline for the huge compensation to them.
Kuna stated that the company gave them money that they never thought of, and it made their relocation to the nearby island easy.
“What the company gave is quite huge and can enable us meet our needs in the area we have relocated to.
“I appreciate Belema Pipeline Ltd for what they gave us, because over 90 per cent of us are non-indigenes, but we were given compensation beyond our imagination that made our relocation less stressful,” he said.
While blessing the company for its magnanimity, the clergy, however, pleaded with it to help provide water and light for them in their new abode.
Other members of the community who spoke at the conference also lauded the company.
Miss Mpapameari Igbikis said that the company was sent by God to come and answer their prayers through the relocation.
“This is what I will call real compensation or empowerment because what the company gave us is more than enough to tackle our challenges.
“Had Belema Pipeline not come to this area, most of us would have been dead as a result of one sickness or the other, but the money has brought life to us,” she said.
Mr Iniofot Afia, on his part stated that he had lived in the island for so many years but had never seen the kind of support Belema Pipeline rendered to them.
Afia said that they were happy with how the company and chiefs of their host community were treating them.
He pleaded with Belema Pipeline to provide water for them and schools for their children to make life more meaningful for them.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that Belema Pipeline Limited had reclaimed more than 91 hectares of land around the Robert-Kiri Island to commence a Dehydrating Unit (DHU) Tank Farm.
Other projects proposed at the island include, Gas Plant, Industrial Estate, Pipe Coating Plant and Helipad.