Hundreds of residents in Robertkiri, a riverine settlement in Akuku-toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, have vacated their ancestral town to give way for an industrial layout being constructed by an indigenous oil firm, Belema oil.
The Head Chief of the Community, Chief Ibroma Brown, who spoke to journalists at Robertkiri, said the 91 acres settlement was acquired and eventually demolished by Belema oil, after Ex-Gratia (compensation) were paid to the affected residents to give way for a proposed industrial layout.
Chief Ibroma Brown said compensation was paid to every occupant of the demolished Robertkiri settlement by Belema oil, before the company acquired the area.
He said it was also done after a mutual agreement was reached between the community and the company.
Chief Brown thanked the company for bringing development and employment to a former riverine settlement which he said came into existence as a result of canalisation for ships to gain access and eventually became a settlement for some Kula people and visitors.
“Robertkiri and its environs were acquired by an oil firm in January 1964, with respect to canalization and people decided to settle there on their own.
“However, the company inherited the place and it was bequeathed to Belema Pipeline Limited.
“Due to the proposed industrialization, the people were approached and compensation was paid to enable them relocate to another location as the project earmarked to take place in the settlement will usher in employment for the youths,” Brown disclosed.
Also speaking, spokesperson for Kula Supreme Council of traditional rulers, Chief Fiala Okoye, said occupants of the demolished Robertkiri settlement reiterated their gratitude for the compensation and how peaceful the evacuation process went as they urged the company to assist them with portable water and electricity.
“Today is a momentous occasion; it is a landmark in history where an oil firm has come to appreciate the people that are resident in Robertkiri settlement. The settlement is billed for an industrial city that is meant to look global like Singapore and other oil cities in the world.
“And the residents of Robertkiri have been given compensation and we have to appreciate them for wilfully relocating to another settlement.
“We want to make it clear that no one was forcefully ejected, but it was a mutual agreement and understanding toward the benefit of all,” Okoye-Davis stated.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Belema Oil, Engr. Mufan Welsh, promised that the company would provide the people with basic amenities. He said that the proposed industrial layout would have basic amenities and create jobs for the host communities.