By Josephine Oguntoyinbo
Ondo State Government has declared that Bitumen processing would commence in the state by the middle of next year.
The State Commissioner for Regional Integration and Special duties, Prof, Bayonle Ademodi stated this while fielding questions from journalists shortly after the ministry’s first meeting with licensed bitumen companies operating in the state held in Akure,the state capital.
Ademodi said: “We are expecting full operation of bitumen from the middle of next year, I can assure you that you will see the effective impact and activities of companies on the field. Series of meetings are being planned with the host communities, we have been there on informal basis but it will be formalised starting from January 2018.”
The Commissioner explained that the meeting became necessary so as to rub minds together and fastrack the set goal.
“The companies have been interacting with the Federal Government, today’s meeting gives them the opportunity to hear what the state has in stock for them in terms of cooperation and facilitating their operations, especially on the issue of interacting with the host communities, environmental impact assessment among others,” he said.
During the meeting, the Commissioner explained that the ministry is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring proper monitoring of the project and ensure no rancour between the host communities and the investors while operating.
The commissioner, who enjoined the companies to comply with the laid down rules as the government will create enabling environment to operate said the the ministry is fully on ground with a lot of programmes to ensure bitumen come on stream.
Also speaking, the State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Pastor Emmanuel Igbasan, who represented the host communities expressed joy that bitumen exploitation and mining which was a dream of their forefathers is coming to fruition.
While advising the companies to adhere strictly to global best practices when they start operation so that their activities will not cause hazard to the environment. He said they should make very good use of the exploration license within the time limit.
He equally enjoined them to always carry the host communities along while operating saying “As a community, we will make the place safe for you”.
The Director, Ondo State Development And Investment Promotion Agency (ONDIPA), who doubles as the Special Assistant to the State Governor on Energy Resources, Engr. Femi Akarakiri posited that bitumen is key to the state and the state government is fully committed to it.
According to him,the project is expected to be well managed and serves as new economic opportunity for the people of the state.
” A lot of background work are ongoing, and by the middle of next year, field activities will commence,we are monitoring the investors, they are analysing samples and are working on equipment to be used for processing’,” he stated.
In his comments, the representative of the Federal Mines Office Akure,Mr Musa Haruna commended the investors for their commitment to the project.
Describing the meeting as the beginning of a good working relationship with stakeholders in the sector, he assured that the Federal Government will leave no stone unturned to ensure the commencement of the project in earnest.
The Director Environment, Pollution Control and Sanitation ,Mrs Bola Akinyanmi in her words advised the investors on the need for community relationship and thorough environmental impact assessment for their business to thrive.
The director charged them not to use substandard impact assessment but lay a good foundation for their benefit.
Responding, the representatives of Kabara Nig Ltd, Southwest bitumen and BEECON said they are committed to the exploration and exploitation of the bitumen in the state.