Subject: [naijanews] FW: Women protesters take over ChevronTexaco facility in Nigeria (AP)
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002 22:12:40 -0700
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Women Protesters Take Over ChevronTexaco Facility in Nigeria
By D'ARCY DORAN
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - About 150 women occupied ChevronTexaco's Escravos export terminal in southeast Nigeria for a third straight day on Wednesday, preventing 700 workers, including Americans, Britons, and Canadians from leaving.
The unarmed women, from the neighboring Arutan and Igborodo communities, forced their way into the multimillion-dollar pipeline terminal on Monday. They want the company to hire their sons and provide electricity for their villages, the San Francisco-based oil giant's Nigeria spokesman, Wole Agunbiade, said.
About 700 employees were working in the terminal on shifts lasting several weeks, Agunbiade said.
The identities of those trapped inside the facility were unknown, although an unidentified worker who answered the phone at the terminal said they included a number of Americans, Canadians, Britons and Nigerians.
A company statement said the women were blocking docks and airstrips that provide the only entry and exit points to the facility, which is surrounded by miles (kilometers) of Niger Delta rivers and swamps.
Agunbiade said the workers, who live at the terminal for weeks at a time, were not in any danger. However, the women had "barricaded installations and restricted free movement," Agunbiade said. "People cannot do their normal jobs."
"This is not a hostage situation, this is an occupation," Agunbiade said.
The company said it was negotiating with the communities to end the demonstration and had called in security forces, although it was unclear if any were on the scene.
The spokesman said the protest has been peaceful but the chanting women - many of whom wore bright printed dresses and carried bundles of food - had frozen movement on the docks, the oil tank farm, the landing strip and helicopter pads at the major export terminal.
Anunu Uwawah, a spokeswoman for the protesters, told reporters at Escravos that the women were there because everyone in the area lives without electricity, except for those in one village where ChevronTexaco's Nigerian unit has an office.
"We will no longer take this nonsense and this is the beginning of the trouble they have been looking for," Uwawah was quoted as saying by the Punch newspaper.
Oil companies operating in the Niger Delta are accustomed to dealing with armed young men who demand jobs and protection money, but Agunbiade said women protesters presented new complications.
"These are daughters and wives, you would not treat them the same way you treat males," he said.
The spokesman said ChevronTexaco would be able to meet its Nigerian production quota for July despite the disruption.
The people in the Niger Delta are among the poorest in Nigeria. The land they live on, however, is the source of Nigeria's dlrs 20 billion in annual oil exports.
The people in the region demand that the multinationals pumping out the oil give them the roads, water and electricity that the government has not provided.
The Niger Delta was recently declared one of the world's worst kidnap risk zones by insurers Aon and Broker Asset Management due to the practice of locals taking foreign and Nigerian oil workers hostage and demanding ransom for their return. Hostages are rarely harmed.